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The politics of antisemitism.

When formulating an outline for a political theory of antisemitism, it seems necessary to take the implicit and partial correspondences between the theories of antisemitism, which are formulated in the social sciences, and make them explicit, putting them in relation to one another. Theoretical differentiations both vertically and horizontally should be considered, while the degree of sociotheoretical abstractness (macro, meso, micro) should also be incorporated into the structuring of a political theory of antisemitism, as well as the question of the relationship between emotionality and cognition in antisemitic resentments. Furthermore, those trends in social science research into antisemitism that have exhibited theoretical weaknesses should be delineated, thereby also precipitating an inquiry into the theoretical and empirical limitations of a political theory of antisemitism.

Taking Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno as a starting point, it seems necessary to consider a political theory of antisemitism not only as an aspect of civil-society socialization, but as a theory of civil society itself. According to the understanding of Horkheimer and Adorno, antisemitism and modernity are inextricably linked: modern antisemitism has the Enlightenment as both a precondition and a limitation; the possibility for (and the reality of) barbarism, created by scientific emancipation, includes at the same time the potential for self-reflection and the development of a critical maturity, in the form of affiliations critical of religion.

The dialectical relationship between civilization and nature, summed up by Horkheimer and Adorno (1947, 219) in the sentence "Civilization is the victory of society over nature, a victory which turns everything into savage nature," describes nature as simultaneously being both proviso and imperative, precondition and compulsion, and the beginning and end of all attempts to establish a generalized, objective rationality in interplay with an instrumental, subjective one. According to Horkheimer and Adorno, it is precisely within this dialectic that one can see the essence of antisemitic attempts to understand the world. The natural is eliminated by the civilizing, and this process of elimination, being not an integrative neutralization but rather an annihilation, in turn transmutes into brute nature and thereby violence. The sociotheoretical key to this metatheoretical conjecture is the codification of the relationship between individual and society through the medium of the drive, and of the localization of the individual in his first and second nature. The essence of antisemitism, which Horkheimer and Adorno ultimately conceive as a phenomenon to be understood psychologically, consists of the "unenlightened drive"--the psychic entity's individually manifesting but superindividually generated and collectively acted out desire for identity, a desire that in view of the drive limitations within civil society must remain unfulfilled. As paradoxical as this may seem, modern antisemitism actually requires the Enlightenment in order to be able to descend into barbarity; it is simultaneously the true nature of civil society, as well as its negation.

Modern antisemitism has also traditionally incorporated religious antisemitism--which in its anti-Jewish orientation may have exhibited arbitrariness, but was certainly not accidental--and therefore "cannot deny its Christian heritage" (Bauer 1992, 77), with the genetic simultaneity of premodern and modern antisemitism clearly legible in the internal coding of antisemitic ciphers. Referring to Sigmund Freud, it is clear that antisemitism or Jew-hating has its theological origins in Christianity, and that this unconsciously lives on in the form of Christian metaphors and myths within the fantasies of antisemites. The deeper cause for this projection oriented toward "the Jews" lies in the differences between Christianity and Judaism, which emerge from a small narcisstic discontinuity, meaning that the origins of antisemitism are essentially of a religious nature, since Jewish monotheism took away from humanity the illusion of potentially being God (cf. Grunberger & Dessuant 1997, 262, 300); however, antisemitism formulates itself as an attempt (and, in light of antisemitic barbarity driven to mass extermination, definitely a pathic one) at a "distorted cure" (Freud 1921, 159) for the profound narcissistic wound as an expression of antisemitic fantasies; it formulates itself as "hearsay about the Jews" (Adorno 1951, 125)--and not as a real engagement with Jewish religion or the history of Jewishness. Therefore, antisemitism can only be deciphered by analyzing antisemites themselves--and not by analyzing Judaism or Jewish history. It is not an accident that the antisemite chooses "the Jews" on which to project his obsessions, nor is it accurate to say that antisemitism has anything to do with actual Jewish behavior.

Picking up on assertions by Parsons, Sartre, Horkheimer/Adorno, and Arendt concerning the concrete manifestations of an antisemitic projection oriented toward "the Jews," one must emphasize that, because of the totalization of civil society and the associated essential interchangeability emerging from the commodification of all life, the projection screen of antisemitism has become instrumentalized, and therefore, in a dehumanizing sense, arbitrary. The ticket mentality (Horkheimer/Adorno) manifests itself in a reified way of perceiving the world, oriented toward interchangeability, indiscriminateness, and arbitrariness, and marked by a large portion of disinterest in and lack of empathy toward others. Antisemitic resentments certainly do not limit themselves to Jewish targets--in fact, as pointed out by Sartre, basically anyone can take on the function of the Jew in antisemitic fantasies; however, this does not change the historical reality that antisemitism has always been and continues to be directed against Jews, and with barbaric brutality.

The antisemitic worldview is thereby structured by a dualistic detachment from the external world, in which one's own beliefs are not checked against reality, the antisemite reacts (apparently) to an action or statement that does not exist (it is or was simply a figment of fantasy), and people or characteristics can be declared "Jews" or "Jewish," even if they are not such in actuality: "Juif par le regard de l'autre" (Traverso 1997, 203). This process takes place within the antisemitic formation of a Jewish idea, in which a transparent projection screen may be provided by Jewish culture, religion, and history, which themselves become arbitrarily distorted or even generated anew; because of this, Sartre is correct in focusing attention on the worldview and passion of the antisemites, in order to begin making antisemitism comprehensible. In accordance with Arendt, one can say that in contrast to premodern anti-Jewish prejudice, modern antisemitism represents an evolving historical process of abstraction culminating in a new peak in the twentieth century: away from actual Jews as projection objects toward the fictional "Jew," who has been identified as alien to the Volk, who is defined solely by antisemites, and who has no more hypothetical possibilities for escaping the antisemitic delusion.

According to Hannah Arendt, the evolution of modern antisemitism through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was thus a process of radicalization in which anti-Jewish prejudices and resentments were increasingly divorced from the realities of society, until finally within the total ideology of National Socialism they became complete abstractions that "required no Jews, but only images of Jews, in order to unleash the hatred against them" (Schulze Wessel/Rensmann 2003, 128). The real, empirically localizable conflicts between Jews and non-Jews in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which were taken as the starting point of theoretical analysis for Arendt and (in a manner transforming perhaps one or two centuries) for Parsons as well, do not represent the cause of antisemitism, but instead the precipitating impetus for the transformational quantum leap from premodern religious antisemitism toward modern volkisch antisemitism (cf. Nonn 2008, 10).

This also means that historical conflicts and social differences between Jews and non-Jews cannot be drawn upon as genuine causes when explaining antisemitism. As Sartre pointed out, the important thing for antisemitism is not the historical reality, but rather the mental images made "from Jews" by the historical participants. It is the idea "qu'on se fait du Juif qui semble determiner l'histoire, non la 'donnee historique' qui fait naitre l'idee" (Sartre 1945, 447). For Sartre, antisemitism is, in this respect, also not explainable through external factors (of social or historical experience), but solely through the formulated and fantasized idea of the Jew. Significant here is not the actual Jew, nor the actual behavior of Jews, but rather "l'idee de Juif" (ibid., 448), the mental image that the antisemites have made of the Jew.

On a political and social level, antisemitism during the emerging modern was at first directed only against the Jews, and especially against their legal and political emancipation. The process of radicalization then took place through the increasingly stronger emphasis on general political questions surrounding antisemitism--a process succinctly summarized by Shulamit Volkov (1978) with the term cultural code, which is what antisemitism had become through this process--erupting into a critique of the whole social and political system, finally leading to conceptions of a fundamentally new society, "inspiring the fantasies of the volkisch movement toward designing, planning, and building" (Schulze Wessel 2006, 222).

The delusional behind the process of antisemitic projection was and is concretized in a transaction of reciprocal reversals of the relationships between individual and society, a transposition between internal and external, between psyche and sociality. Borrowing from Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno's analyses of mimesis and false projections in Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947, 220), it can be said that the antisemitic worldview is not interested in a mimetic transformation process with an accurate representation of the object and a simultaneous recognition of the subject, but rather the opposite, in a projectional delusional transformation of external reality with the goal of conforming the social environment to match the individual's delusional drive structure. Although, as previously stated, modern antisemitism differs from premodern anti-Jewish prejudice in effectuating a process of abstraction, it nonetheless then delusionally seeks concrete projection screens and accuses Jews of being abstract and not concrete--for example, in the form of commodities or money. As Sartre pointed out, antisemites thus repudiate particular abstractions of civil society, especially the forms of modern property such as money and stocks, because these were closely associated with rationality and therefore were also related to the abstract intelligence of "the Jews."

Thus, in the antisemitic fantasy, Jews become symbolic of abstraction itself, which makes clear the highly contradictory contents of antisemitic resentments: Jews are accused of abstractness and are thereby blamed for the modern, which likewise encompasses socialism as much as liberalism and capitalism as much as enlightenment, as well as urbanity, mobility, and intellectualism (cf. Benz 2004; Schoeps/Schlor 1995). Only concreteness, and in politics the volkisch, are not encompassed by this antisemitic fantasy, since they represent the antithesis--as first described by Sartre (1945, 452)--of the differentiation between the generalized and the concrete in thought patterns and commodity forms, and the resulting dichotomy between worldliness and rootedness in the antisemitic worldview. With Moishe Postone (1982), it follows that the value system of modern society and the resulting differentiation between utility value and exchange value as well as the fetishization of commodities are causative of antisemitism's establishing a connection between these economic spheres and a concrete worldview in which the abstract is dualistically associated with Jewishness.

Postone pointed out that certain aspects of the annihilation of European Jewry will remain unexplained as long as antisemitism is treated as a simple example of prejudice, xenophobia, and racism in general. Here, Postone argues that although antisemitism is certainly related to racist and volkisch stereotypes, racism itself is decidedly less complex than antisemitism, because it lacks the ambivalence seen in antisemitic assertions, expressing straightforward scorn instead. That is to say, as long as the belief continues that antisemitism is simply an example of scapegoating whose victims could have been members of any other group, because although the choice of antisemitic projection object exhibits arbitrariness, it was not accidental. Antisemitism bears not only a considerable quantitative difference (as manifested in the Shoah) in comparison to prejudice and racism, it also has qualitative differences, in the concrete (material and sexual) articulation of the potential power attributed to the Other, as well as in the abstractness of the attribution given to antisemitism, which is fantasized as a "mysterious unfathomability, abstraction and generality" (Postone 1982, 15). Because this fantasized power in antisemitism has no identifiable bearer, it is perceived as rootless, fantastically large and uncontrollable, but above all as hidden behind a facade, and is therefore perceived as conspiratorial and unfathomable--in other words, as abstract. National Socialist antisemitism attempted to personalize and concretize this abstraction with the antisemitic extermination, although the Shoah itself had no functional meaning, and the annihilation of the Jews served no other purpose besides exterminating the abstract.

Brought into contact with racial theories that had been emerging in the late nineteenth century, a conception of the naturalness and rootedness of organicity became connected with the commodity-producing society, in which these thought patterns are themselves an expression of that same paradoxical fetish that generated the conception of the concrete as being natural, while increasingly representing the social-natural so that it appears to be biological (cf. Postone 1982, 21). The abstract and the concrete are not understood in their unity as rational parts of an antinomy, for which the real vanquishing of abstraction would be represented by the value encompassed by the historical-practical reconciliation of the contradiction itself, as well as of each of its sides. This is how the dichotomy of material-concrete versus abstract mutates into the racial dichotomy of Aryan versus Jew:
   Modern antisemitism is therefore an especially dangerous form of
   fetish. Its power and its danger lie in that it offers a
   comprehensive worldview which seems to justify various types of
   anticapitalist discontent, giving them political expression. It
   nonetheless allows capitalism to continue, insofar as it attacks
   only the personification of that social form. This understanding of
   antisemitism allows one to see a significant impetus of Nazism as
   being an abbreviated anticapitalism. A defining characteristic of
   antisemitism is the hatred of the abstract. Its hypostatization of
   the existing concrete leads to a unanimous, barbarous--but not
   necessarily hate-filled mission: the deliverance of the world from
   the source of all evil in the form of the Jews (ibid., 24).

Historically, the antisemitic delusion was not an individual but rather a superindividual phenomenon, involving not just single paranoiacs, but rather an entire society that exalted the delusion of antisemitism as the norm, so that, historically seen, the phantasm of social normality became structured by the antisemitic delusion. The antisemites transferred their delusion to reality and attempted to adjust reality to match their own psychic deviance. The antisemitic delusion escalated from a national conception of negative integration (cf. Wippermann 1987, 36) toward the extermination of those fantasized as being non-identical, with the concrete goal of creating volkisch homogeneity and the extermination of the abstract possibility of non-identity and ambivalence. The antisemitic delusional structure implemented by National Socialism is thus the clearest manifestation of the social reality of antisemitic fantasies, and the mass extermination of Jews is the utopia of modern antisemitism, which was barbarically realized in the Shoah--and whose replication in the present day is striven for by Islamic antisemitism in particular. The antisemites want to annihilate that which they desire; aggressive extermination desires go together with narcissistic identification, and fantasized envy generates the delusion of omnipotence.

The extent and radicalness of antisemitism in a social and political system are fundamentally dependent on its material and conceptional concretization--which itself has been made realizable by the modern ambivalence of enlightened thought, because capitalist totality has produced economic foundations that are essentially identical around the world, and the potential for an antisemitic reaction to the ambivalent uncertainties of the modern is equally evident everywhere. Here, the crucial macrotheoretical contextual prerequisite is the relationship between (nation-)state organizing and its implementation in the sovereign state as the site of a "systematized form of dominance" (Pelinka 2006, 225), although the relationship between the civil state and antisemitism has remained underexamined in social science research to date.

In this context, Arendt characterized antisemitism as an antinationalist worldview, pointing out that National Socialism placed little value on the nation-state and set volkisch thought against the national conception. Arendt sees volkisch ideology and racist thought as standing in opposition to nationalism, and as factors undermining it (cf. Arendt 1955, 265). However, it would be equally wrong to assume that states constituted as nonvolkisch would automatically be non-antisemitic, as conjected by Holz (2001), who was absolutely correct in his formal analysis but mistaken in his assumptions in positing a modern antisemitism and a "nationalist antisemitism." The actual state forms of civil society do not correspond to the conceptual forms, but are instead defined like civil society by the dialectic of enlightenment.

The dialectic of the modern state consists of its double character: on the one hand, limiting individual instances of violence by imposing a monopolizing sovereignty and using this monopoly on physical force (Weber 1980, 29, 516), which has been recognized as legitimate to protect its citizens publicly and privately from physical violence committed by third parties; but on the other hand, simultaneously using this duality to realize the proclamation of universality to secure particular economic interests--using abstract political equality to manifest actual economic inequality--thus structuralizing power relationships (cf. Galtung 1975). Franz L. Neumann focuses on this dialectic in his analysis of modern state theory, emphasizing that both central components--sovereignty and freedom--form a unity within the state, and therefore cannot themselves be resolved in one direction or the other, thereby remaining in an "unresolvable contradiction" (cf. Buckel 2007, 82; Salzborn 2009).

The modern nation-state is organized around the poles of ethnos or demos (cf. Salzborn 2005), and simultaneously also around the differentiations between sovereignty and freedom, and between force and rule of law (cf. Neumann 1937). Central to this double ambivalence of the modern nation-state is that while it forms the ideational basis for antisemitism and volkisch thought, it could also be a guarantor for its prevention, depending on the combination of the four categories--ethnos and demos as well as sovereignty and freedom--and how they stand in concrete relationship to one another.

National Socialism, which was oriented only toward ethnos and toward sovereignty, attempted to eliminate the modern state in its ambivalence and--as one could say in agreement with Neumann (1944)--to erect an antisemitic unstate, where ambivalence and non-identity are destroyed and the fantasy of volkisch-narcissistic homogeneity is realized through antisemitic extermination. Here, it is evident that within the framework of antisemitic logic, the antisemitic extermination policy is neither concludable nor even finite, but instead structurally produces newly formulated imagos on a continual basis for the ideological maintenance of the psychic and economic obsession with purity, because any attempt to unilaterally abolish the modern is structurally doomed to fail; in this respect, a delusional structure of permanent repetition is built into the antisemitic worldview--only the annihilation of the last human being could possibly fulfill the omnipotent desire for purity, which is why Sartre's statement (1945, 470) that antisemitism is the fear of humanity itself is absolutely accurate in its naked brutality.

An explicit clarification of the relationship between the modern state and antisemitism would therefore have to take the ambivalent civil state as a starting point, before launching a historical and empirical investigation into the relationship between ethnos and demos on the one hand, and between sovereignty and freedom on the other, and then consider this in relation to the corresponding national history of antisemitism. A comparative, social science analysis of relevant historical case studies could then give insights into the precise interrelationship of the four elements--as well as offering (in contrast to many untenable pedagogical conceptions) historically and social-scientifically corroborated insights into the conditions required in a nation-state for the prevention of antisemitism.

The conscious or unconscious decision to be an antisemite is therefore the result of a commitment to a specific, idiosyncratic attitude toward modern society; it can be seen as a totality that encompasses the entire person, to borrow from Sartre and Horkheimer/Adorno. This "totalite syncretique" (Sartre 1945, 444) is a combination of worldview and passion, whose central focus is the idea of the Jew. Antisemitism emerges from the voluntary decision of the antisemite to understand the world in this particular way, and from the passion of wanting to give one's own resentments free rein. Between worldview and passion, between cognition and emotion, there exists an individualized mixing ratio in which, according to subject and situation, sometimes the emotional and sometimes the cognitive side dominates, thereby producing in antisemitism a dynamic relationship between worldview and passion. According to Sartre, the source of antisemitic enthusiasm can be seen in a yearning for insularity and a fear of change, whereby this fear also corresponds to a fear of oneself and of the truth. The antisemite strives for a standstill, trusting only in those essentialistically implicit certainties that are understood as being inborn, while simultaneously rejecting the acquired and the social. Antisemitism is ultimately about the desire for unfreedom and identity, articulated both cognitively and emotionally, combined with a fear of freedom and ambivalence. By separating the Jews from the homogenously fantasized collective and isolating them sociopolitically as well as symbolically (in the fantasy of a narcissistic system of complete homogeneity), the "yearning for perfection" (Ludin 2000, 215) can be maintained, whereby narcissistic homogeneity in itself is also of value for the antisemites.

Having looked at the social-structural factors, we will now examine factors on the individual level that are significant for a theory of antisemitism, before finally turning to the mediating dimensions between individual and structure, between micro and macro levels.

Horkheimer and Adorno emphasized that antisemitism is not focused on economic benefits, but is instead informed by psychic dispositions, in which antisemitism only superficially appears to lack a rational intention: this intention is in fact composed of an (unconscious) affect that needs to be discharged--they thus took a crucial theoretical step past Sartre, who still argued a rational economic interest and did not delve deeply enough to see that this human interest can also be dominated by drive contingencies (that is, in facilitating unconscious fantasies of acting out), as is the case with antisemitism. Borrowing from Grunberger, it can be said that the antisemite projects his conflicts on the Jew, expediting an abreaction of some of his psychic complexes.

A psychoanalytical interpretation of the early childhood ambivalence conflict and the Oedipal situation as subjective sites of antisemitic fantasies can be used in underpinning psychosocial insights into the orientation of antisemitism's anti-Jewish projections and its affiliated household of fantasies and myths, as well as in understanding the attractivity for the individual of antisemitic resentments within their social dynamic from the perspective of personality psychology, which is itself closely interwoven with the meso-and macro-structure of civil society through the triangular familial structure in its social-functional dimension as the familial medium (cf. Fromm 1936, 109) and thereby the "agent of society" (Adorno & Horkheimer 1991, 122).

Referring to the personality psychology interpretations of Loewenstein, Fenichel, Ostow, Simmel, and Grunberger, it can be surmised on the basis of empirical analyses that there is no uniform antisemitic personality (cf. Salzborn 2010, 228), but rather that an ensemble of predisposing variables exists--which do not, however, result in identical personality structures in all antisemites, because the personality structure elements as described in psychoanalytical literature emerge in parallel and complement one another, with the potential for more or less radicalization depending on individual biography and social contexts.

Abstractly formulated, the psychological commonality of all antisemites consists solely of having a similar predisposition of the psychic apparatus of the id, ego, and superego, as well as having similar patterns in the formation of psychic reactions. In general, the antisemitic ego is structured by projections, which (expanding upon Grunberger) can be described as isolated from the rest of the personality to a greater or lesser extent, resulting in an ego dissociation--again to a greater or lesser extent. The unresolvability of the antisemitic ego's projectional structuring is the reason the antisemite rejects the reality principle, thus remaining in a phase of primitive emotional organization, or the so-called primary processes, and creates for himself a world of delusions. This is also why antisemites react irritably and aggressively toward ideas that run counter to their own fantasies: because--as also pointed out by Horkheimer and Adorno--they reject the reality outside of their ideological inner world.

However, this form of specific regression influences not only the ego, but also the antisemite's superego, which Grunberger described as being underdeveloped and composed of components from various developmental phases:

The primary role is played here by a superego which arises not from an introjection of objects, but rather from acquired behavioral schemes. This pregenital superego, which imposes itself with its aforementioned austerity, does not lead to a true identification, but remains instead a system of acquired behavioral schemes. It consists solely of commands and prohibitions (Grunberger 1962, 258).

This antisemitic superego has introjected only the formal power that forced the individual into its acquired behavioral schemes--independent of the contents thereof. Since the antisemites' projections materialize under the pressure of the pregenital superego, one can also recognize in the accusations against the Jews their pregenital origin, and read in their stereotyping their regressive archaic character (cf. Grunberger 1962, 259). However, in terms of constituting the individual superego, the focus in sociotheoretical terms is not on the individual but rather on society, since transmitted concepts such as formal values, norms, and dictates, as handed down by the family as primary socialization authority, are always reproductions of political and social norm and value orientation processes, which are certainly not unexamined or unfractured, but are also not at all individual, instead being only individualized.

Moreover, the question of the antisemitic personality structure is also tied to a historically affiliating process, meaning that the cohesiveness of the worldview (and thereby the radicality of the ego dissociation) and the harmony or disharmony between ego and superego are concretely dependent on individual biography as well as social and political contexts, and can further stabilize or radicalize according to socialization and context. Here, a question remains about the point of no return, or the point at which antisemitic prejudices cohere into a worldview and the ego dissociation suspends itself largely in favor of a relatively homogenous personality structure shaped by antisemitism. It can be conjectured that a cognitive and especially an emotional predisposition toward antisemitic thought and affect structures is psychodynamically generated during childhood, and is therefore also furnished with a gradual potential for revision in later life. Put another way, the revision of antisemitic resentments is pedagogically possible only if they have not already been established during childhood as the emotional and cognitive fundament for the individual's overall personality structure.

If the antisemites have indeed succeeded in projecting upon the Jews, then they have achieved their dualistic paradise: all evil is now to be found on the one side, wherein their view the Jews are, and all good is to be found on the other side, where the antisemites consider themselves to be. According to Grunberger, the antisemite's ego ideal is of a narcissistic nature, and its fulfillment corresponds to a completed narcissistic integrity, which has been achieved by the antisemite through a projection upon the Jew. The creation of narcissistic integrity depends on the closing of an open narcissistic wound, which, according to Grunberger, can be considered central within the context of an Oedipal complex. People with antisemitic attitudes have never succeeded in correcting the wound to their self-esteem and have therefore foundered on the Oedipal conflict. The individual's wound corresponds to the collective wound described by Freud, which expresses itself in the Christian jealousy of Jews being (religiously speaking) the chosen people, and in the projective fantasy of a "Jewish world conspiracy."

The Jew represents the Oedipal father image, in which the psychic function of the Jew is to enable both a distancing of the Oedipal conflict as well as a lingering in the narcissistic dimension. Here, the psychodynamic goal is to "fill a deep narcissistic fissure within the subject and between the subject and the outside world" (Pohl 2006, 62). It is an avoidance of the real Oedipal conflict, resulting in a pregenital regression and an escape into the narcissistic universe as the site of the mother archetype, and the yearning for intrauterine perfection and the "prenatal elevated-elevating condition" (Grunberger 1982, 44). The antisemite stands between two worlds: that of illusion and Narcissus, and that of reality and Oedipus. For the antisemite, the Jew appears here as "the mighty and as the castrated father":

The Jews are utilized for the abreaction of an unresolved and therefore "eternal" ambivalence towards the father. In accordance with this inner schism, he splits the introjected primal father figure into two halves: the aggressivity towards the evil, punishing father is directed towards the imago of the Jews to undergo an abreaction there, while positive feelings remain towards the beloved father figure, meaning God, the Fatherland, the ideal (Grunberger 1962, 268).

This also makes clear on an individual psychological level what Ostow (1996, 80, 85) described within Christianity's apocalyptic imagery, in which can be seen a mythical division of the world juxtaposing "elements of danger or destruction with elements of achievement or victory," combining "death fantasies" with "rebirth fantasies," always in connection to messianic elements and the hope of an end to the current, negatively seen era. According to Ostow, the antisemitic worldview is therefore marked by a distinctly identifiable moralization. Sartre described this worldview as a dualism with an extreme polarization that largely excludes any kind of reality check, which itself relates to Arendt's idea emphasizing the totality of antisemitism and the concomitant hermetic self-containment of this worldview.

Upon reaching the state of criticality, the antisemitic psyche's internal conflicts can no longer be endured, and the ambivalence toward the id's suppressed drive impulses and the superego's internalized father authority becomes so unbearable that they are only manageable through externalization and thus projection. Here, the Jews serve the delusional role of the "demonized incarnation of one's own projected destructive desires" (Beland 2004, 191f). Expanding on Grunberger, it is therefore important to pick up on Loewenstein, who pointed out that "the Jew" functions in two respects as a projection object for antisemitism: on the one hand, as the "repressed drives," the internal "evil," the forbidden (which refers back to the psychic connection between antisemitic resentment and the anal com plex, and thus the semantic fields of dirtiness, excrement, darkness, mysteriousness, sexuality, and money); and on the other hand, as the hated as well as beloved father, thus--in psychoanalytical terms--as a representative simultaneously of the id as well as the superego. However, a distinct shortcoming in theoretical antisemitism research still remains in the lack of empirically secured insights concerning the id: although one may here work as well from an assumption of pregenital dominance, the significance of oral and/or anal dimensions have not yet received sufficient empirical analysis.

The psychic mechanism of projection, characteristic of antisemitism, functions as a defensive measure against the efforts of one's own unconscious, as described by Fenichel (1946, 20):
   For the unconscious of the rioters, the Jew represents not only the
   authorities whom they do not dare to attack, but also their own
   repressed instincts which they hate and which are forbidden by the
   very authorities against whom they are directed. Anti-Semitism is
   indeed a condensation of the most contradictory tendencies:
   instinctual rebellion directed against the authorities, and the
   cruel suppression and punishment of this instinctual rebellion,
   directed against oneself. Unconsciously for the antiSemite, the Jew
   is simultaneously the one against whom he would like to rebel, and
   the rebellious tendencies within himself.

The antisemitic conception of the Jew is irrational, and therefore cannot be altered through concrete experiences with Jews, either. According to Fenichel, the antisemite views the Jewish God--and therefore every Jew too--as the Devil and the Anti-Christ, the evil, anti-divine principle, on the basis of which God was nailed to the cross. The question of why the Jew has taken on this role in the antisemite's projections is answered by Freud, with a view to the historical relationship between Christianity and Judaism:
   The deeper motives behind Jew-hating are rooted in long-ago times,
   they emerge from the racial unconscious, [ ... ]. I would venture
   to say that this jealousy, directed against a people purporting to
   be God's first-born favorite offspring, has not yet been outgrown
   by the others, as if they still put faith in this claim.
   Furthermore, of the customs that the Jews use to mark themselves
   out, that of circumcision made a disagreeable, sinister impression,
   which can probably be explained as a reminder of dreaded
   castration, harking back to a gladly forgotten piece of the primal
   past. And finally, the latest motive in this series, one should not
   forget that all these peoples who today excel in Jew-hating first
   became Christians late in history, and often forced by bloody
   compulsion. One could say they are all "badly baptized," and that,
   under a thin wash of Christianity, they have remained the same as
   their ancestors who paid homage to a barbaric polytheism. They have
   not yet overcome their grudge against the new religion that was
   forced upon them, but they have displaced it upon the source from
   which Christianity came to them (Freud 1939, 197f).

By contrast to pregenitally influenced pagan religions, which focused on protecting and primarily motherly divinities, Jewish monotheism darkened religion by setting up the father as its central object, thus robbing it of motherly warmth. On the other hand, the stronger reincorporation of the motherly element in Christianity, in which the son has rediscovered the mother, has ultimately sparked a Jewish-Christian conflict in the unconscious. Andreas Peham (2004, 5) summarized the Jewish-Christian relationship from a theological-psychoanalytical perspective:
   The evolution towards monotheism, towards the conception of a
   single, abstract God combining as a father figure both loving and
   punishing aspects, can also be understood in terms of
   psychogenesis, as "the development from a limited perception of the
   partial object towards the ability to perceive the entire object."
   Here, there is no longer the need to dissociate the
   aggressive-destructive aspects and project them externally
   (paranoid-schizoid position). Instead, these aspects can be
   integrated, and the contradictory emotions can be experienced with
   an internal object that can also be evil and hated. The price for
   this antidemonization of the external world is the ambivalence

   conflict (depressive position). In terms of a conception of God,
   the Christian installation of a completely good and loving imago,
   corresponding to the narcissistic primal mother, implies the
   renewed need for dissociation and projection. Antisemitism thus
   appears to be overloaded: on the one hand, it proves to be "a
   hatred towards those who do not participate in the ritual of
   release from the paranoid-schizoid position, because they are
   perceived as a threat that casts doubt on the validity of this
   release"; on the other hand, it is also a projection of those
   negative or anal aspects which cannot be integrated. When the
   Christian God entered the world stage, so did the Jewish Devil; the
   narcissism of purity can only be achieved with the projection of
   the impure, of anality.

Christianity, which as a kind of younger sibling to Judaism also asserts a monotheistic worldview, has not equated the deep narcissistic wound with Judaism--which had taken away from humanity the illusion of potentially being God (cf. Grunberger/Dessuant 1997, 262, 300)--but instead with the Father himself. Antisemites do not identify with the austere law that was received with the (symbolic) murder of the primal father: instead of abstract, austere equality, they have internalized concrete power and the associated option for authoritarian arbitrariness. Within this fascination with total (fatherly) power exists simultaneously the fear of the same, as well as the fear of one's own loss of power and status; all merge into antisemitism's conception of the Jew being both powerful and powerless, castrating and castrated, as pointed out by Grunberger and Freud. Therefore, oral aggression and anal destructiveness are an unconscious expression of the narcissistic-omnipotent desire for merging. The antisemitic fantasy articulates itself sociologically as a fear of losing recognition, love, or status, or as a reaction to this loss (Parsons), and psychologically as an interaction between castration anxiety and castration depression (Freud, 1939), in which this anxiety tends to elicit an aggressive acting out of the unresolved conflicts, while the depression tends to elicit a defensive one. The circumcision practiced by Judaism acquires in antisemitic fantasies a malign, sinister, and frightening mythos, closely associated with the anal conception of the Jew as devil and witch, as the "terrible, phallic, omnipotent and dangerous mother" (Grunberger 1962, 259).

In the interrelationship between castration anxiety and castration depression, there also exists the perspective of gender politics in contextualizing a political theory of antisemitism. Contrary to the assumption--arising from an understanding of gender based on theoretical difference--that women because of a differing Oedipal situation would take on antisemitism solely as an adaptation of "dominant masculine value orientations," without this being affiliated with their psychic structure (cf. Mitscherlich-Nielsen 1983, 52), empirical findings show that such a differentiation is purely normative and does not hold in social reality. If the motif of castration is instead to be interpreted socially, then biological gender must be distinguished from social gender, meaning that the childhood perception is not about an actual lack or loss, but instead about the behavioral patterns performed with the primary gender characteristics by the parents while interacting with their children, and the fixation on defined, socially contingent, and trained gender roles as applied during early childhood education, which are symbolically manifested in the primary male and female sex organs. Furthermore, Elisabeth Brainin (1986, 108) showed that psychic needs and mechanisms such as narcissism, drive and affect repression, and anal-sadistic tendencies are not particular to masculine psychosexual development. In this respect, it can be stated that theoretical insights from social science research into antisemitism are empirically valid for both sexes, although there still needs to be further, primarily qualitative biographical research into what forms of gender identification concretely manifest themselves in men and women, in order to achieve a more precise picture of the theoretical dimension of gender in antisemitism. Here, too, one could presume a wider spectrum of possible identification patterns, which nonetheless ought to be traceable back to essentially similar primary socialization experiences.

Factors on the structural as well as individual levels allow one to summarize antisemitism as--to borrow from Horkheimer Adorno and Arendt-- ultimately a way of thinking, and--to borrow from Sartre and Claussen--a way of feeling: antisemitism is both the inability and unwillingness to think abstractly and feel concretely; in antisemitism, the two are switched, so that thinking is concrete, but feeling is abstract. Thus, all the ambivalences of modern civil society remain not only cognitively misunderstood and unconsidered, but also emotionally unprocessed, because feelings are abstracted and therefore the ambivalent uncertainties of the modern subject are not tolerated. With antisemitism, the individual is doubly desubjectivized: it forfeits intellectual mastery over its self-reflection, and forgoes the potential for emotional understanding and empathy. The antisemitic desire to think concretely is complemented by the inability to feel concretely; the worldview is to be concrete, but the feelings are to be abstract--the intellectual and emotional perspectives are subjected to an inversion, and this dichotomy leads inevitably to psychic inner conflicts. Therefore, in terms of worldview, antisemitism is a decisionistic attitude toward the world and a conscious and unconscious radical commitment to the dualistic antisemitic fantasy, both cognitively and emotionally.

Insights into the cognitive and emotional structure of antisemitism also provide significant prospects for social science research into prevention, especially from psychological and sociological sources. If one begins with the premise that antisemitism consists of a worldview and a passion that both emanate from a particular psychological basis that, though largely defined in early childhood, first produces a coherent worldview only later in psychological development, then the microtheoretical prospects for the prevention of antisemitism lie primarily within early childhood, in the encouragement of abstract thought and concrete feeling so as to strengthen the authentic and situation-appropriate articulation of one's own needs and interests--in contrast to the "especially pronounced drive repression in all areas" (Brainin 1986, 107) that is characteristic of antisemitism. Here, long-term empirical studies would be particularly useful in clarifying whether the ability for abstract thought and concrete feeling, as identified in individual biographies, also correlates in fact with a resistance against antisemitic models of interpreting the world. This question remains completely open, as the outline of a political theory of antisemitism being presented here can only demonstrate insights into its characteristics--but not, however, whether a revision or modification of these basal structures would in fact be a successful prevention strategy on the level of the individual, especially if the structural factors were to remain intact.

The conscious and unconscious interaction between factors on the structural and individual levels, as well as their reciprocal stabilization and the attendant modification of ways to articulate antisemitic resentments, occurs through a process of cultural formation. Shulamit Volkov described with her concept of the cultural code the sociocultural process of social segmentation and homogenization, which--historically as well as currently--leads to a polarization (both symbolic and real) by antisemitism, and characterizes antisemitic mental images and worldviews. In antisemitism as a comprehensive alternative worldview, Jews have become a symbol of the modern world, as emphasized not only by Volkov, but also by Sartre, Horkheimer/Adorno, Arendt, and Postone. The cultural basis for this identification process was the formation (completed in the Wilhelmine Empire and uninterrupted to the present day) of a semantic and symbolizing interpretational figure that continually led to new extremes in the polarization of the Jew-hating sentiments, which had at first still remained localized and ambivalent: with the achievement of Jewish emancipation, antisemitism gradually became inextricably tied to its negation, whereby the Jews were assigned the function of a "third figure" (Holz).

Around the end of the nineteenth century, antisemitism became an integral part of an entire culture, and a "permanent companion of aggressive nationalism and anti-modernism" (Volkov 1978, 44). In the process, antisemitism changed from a bundle of ideas, values, and norms to a unique, widespread culture. Volkov accounts for this interpretive process on the semantic level from a symbolic viewpoint as the formation of a cultural code or the establishment of a linguistic shorthand, which on the one hand allows one to invoke particular associations and contexts, and on the other hand itself functions as a communicative cipher that refrains from any explicit mention of antisemitism's resentments during the symbolic communication involved in the cultural creation of meaning. Antisemitism has become a code that in the thought and speech of antisemites requires no further explanations or details, so that antisemitism can be communicated by catchwords and key images needing no further explication between those communicating, because everyone "understands" the unconscious dimension, or because the speaker hopes and expects that particular insinuations and catchwords will be correctly interpreted by the listener, since they assume that they belong to the same cultural system--which consists of, as succinctly summarized by Lars Rensmann (1999, 311), "long-term, generation-spanning central value systems and codes, as well as the political and psychological behavioral dispositions, conventions and latencies."

This communication in symbolic codes, the form and content of which the antisemite need not be aware, is based in its deep semantics on the assumption that a particular group of verbal addressees is capable of deciphering the code (which does not necessarily mean understanding it intellectually), and that this capability is denied to another group. This kind of hermetic coding also makes clear a difference in terms of generality between antisemitic and other worldviews, because the antisemitic interpretive fantasy is

not about logical all-statements, but rather pragmatic ones. This means that, in contrast to any other logical all-statement which can be made obsolete by a counter-example, in the case of the stereotype, a counterexample elicits no deconstruction of the pragmatic judgement contained within that stereotype. This is a major reason why stereotypes are so resistant to criticisms based on argumentative elucidation (Schwarz Friesel/Braune 2007, 13).

An analysis of the hermeneutics and symbolic force of antisemitic speech in the context of cultural interpretive frameworks in the interaction between individuals and groups reveals that, for many, the catchword "antisemitism" was and is a repression of the real world, and--in terms of Critical Theory--a pathic worldview that interpretively distorted and deformed reality in such a way that it itself could appear to be the same thing, ideologically becoming it. The communication structure and interaction structure of antisemitic resentments within sociocultural space are marked by a hermeneutic logic in which Jews are perceived as non-identical.

Regarding the nation as a political form, Klaus Holz pointed out that "the Jews" are not considered foreign at all, but rather as other, thus representing a "third figure": "He [the Jew] is neither one nor the other, neither native nor foreigner" (Holz 2000, 270). Holz argues that the polarization between native and foreigner marks out distinctly identifiable inside and outside positions, whereby "the Jew" is seen as neither one nor the other, and is thereby a third figure within this distinction between one's own nation and the other one. "The Jew" therefore embodies within antisemitic semantics the negation of this distinction between one's own nation and the other one, meaning that, from antisemitism's point of view, the Jews' existence in itself undermines the differentiation of nations and nation forms. In antisemitic fantasies, the Jew therefore also personifies the potential collapse of the world's national order:
   The national form serves to contain a we-group in the world. The
   asymmetry between one's own and the foreign does not emerge from a
   denial of the nationhood or peoplehood of those outside. Instead,
   the symmetrical construction of "nation vs. nation" is made
   asymmetrical, on the level of imputations and judgements, by the
   dichotomy of "my nation and other nation." This implies a certain
   acknowledgement of the outside. [ ... ] The national form
   establishes a cultural interpretive framework which represents the
   world as nationally ordered. In this sense, the national form is at
   once both universalistic and particularistic (ibid., 277).

In this context, Holz puts forth the thesis that "the national form constitutes identity and alterity, the self-perception and public image of a we group, and that the third figure was developed in order to allow one to conceive of the national form's negation" (ibid., 279). Here, the "ordinary foreigner" does not personify the third figure, and therefore also not the ambivalence of the national form, but rather its constituent outsider:
   The "Jews" are conceived not as the other nation, but rather as a
   negation of the distinction between nations. In nationalist
   antisemitism, they are consistently characterized as ambivalent,
   paradoxical, and non-identical. Internally, they do not belong, and
   externally, they have no location in the sense of
   Volk/state/nation. In other words, the "Jews" personify within
   nationalist antisemitism the tertium non datur of the two-sided
   form: the non-identical, anti-national nation (ibid., 280).

In terms of antisemitic hermeneutics, it is essential to note that the question of whether Jews in a national system actually become a third figure on the structural level is dependent on its systematic localization in the already outlined dynamic matrix of ethnos and demos as well as sovereignty and freedom; if, however, Jews are made into a third figure, then this conceptual process must be based on an affirmative utilization of the ethnic nation concept (or a similar belief), which of course could also stand in opposition to the macrostructure of a national system. Following Volkov and expanding on Holz, it can be stated that in terms of cultural and semantic (communications) structure, modern antisemitism is a volkisch antisemitism, which draws on ethnic and therefore antidemocratic organizing principles and aims to destroy forms of ambivalence and non-identicalness both theoretically and practically.

In the worldview of antisemitism, Jews play the permanent role of being non-belonging and non-identical, a role that is particularly expressed in--as described in detail by Holz--a dichotomous perpetrator-victim inversion in antisemitic thought; a differentiation between the identity of the we-group and the non-identity of the Jews; an ethnicization and ontologization of the respectively imputed characteristics; a differentiation between "good" and "bad" Jews within the antisemitic fantasy (which serves to deflect accusations of antisemitism); a contrasting of community and society in defining the social context of antisemitism; and antithetical conceptions charged with religious, racial, or social meaning (Judaism vs. Christianity; "Jewish race" vs. "Nordic/Aryan race"; "acquisitive" vs. "productive").

Cultural codes within a hermeneutic triadic structure facilitate the communicative transmission of antisemitic resentments, whose social dynamic and attractivity for the individual within the structural relationship between individual and group becomes comprehensible when one considers, in terms of social theory, the interlinking of micro- and meso-levels. The focus here is on the antisemitic collective, which in terms of both real group (crowd gathering) and perceived group (intellectual unity) is relevant to antisemitism's crowd-building, in that the crowd, according to classical psychoanalytical understanding, should not be understood as a numerical dimension, but rather as a specific psychic condition that is independent of group size. In this context, Sartre posed an eminently important question of why antisemitism can continue to function for the antisemite even without any immediate connection to a physical mass movement; the answer is given by Simmel, who states that the individual is an intellectual participant in the mass movement of antisemitism, and not necessarily a physical one in the sense of a crowd gathering: "The anti-Semitic idea is a substitute for the leader" (Simmel 1946b, 54; original italics), whereby Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel (1975, 95) additionally pointed out that the crowd desires less a master and more a set of illusions (with the goal of narcissistic fulfillment), and therefore chooses the leading principle that promises the "union du Moi et de l'ldeal."

Simmel describes the antisemites' physical and/or psychic absorption into the crowd, meaning into the irresponsible, seditious collective ego--via the replacement of the individual's superego with an external authority (cf. Freud 1921, 73) and therefore its externalization (cf. Adorno 1951a, 416)--within the context of the early childhood ambivalence conflict, which Grunberger placed in direct relationship to the Oedipal situation. The latent ambivalence conflict of the antisemitic crowd member is temporarily (if only ostensibly) resolved, precisely through participation in the crowd's collective ego and its splitting of the externalized parental force into a part that is loved (the Fuhrer or the antisemitic idea) and a part that is hated (the Jews). The coming together of the crowd manifests itself in the merging of ideas and action impulses, which is a process of identification resulting from the reciprocal, latently homosexual bonds between individual group members. By relinquishing individual responsibility, the antisemitic crowd member becomes an egalitarian component of the crowd, what Sartre summarized as the "mediocrity" of the individual who participates in the crowd: an individual without responsibility, a fantasized collective ego with externalized superego.

Alfred Lorenzer (1981, 118) pointed out that the antisemitic mass psychosis has a considerable socializing effect, supported by the presence of both a personality disorder and a distinctive form of socialization. In building the crowd, adults organize themselves as children around their "personality defect that has congealed into a symptom" and become fixated at the infantile stage, whereby the crowd-building signifies a stabilization on the level of individual psychology. While the original drive impulse is thereby being subsumed by a substitute fulfillment, the aggressive-destructive dimension of antisemitic crowd-building becomes rationalized by a worldview that offers a post-infantile socialization to the individual. According to Lorenzer, the individual's symptomatic asociality is thus neutralized, and the individual is freed on a conscious level from asocial isolation by his embedding: "Substitute fulfillment is incorporated into the consciousness" (ibid., 122). Since the antisemitic delusion, in the face of the participating individual and his individually psychological as well as his collectively political controlling agencies, is not permitted to reveal itself as delusional, it requires, in Freud's sense, precisely that rationalization of antisemitic thought: its accusations are true, and its emotionality is denied.

According to Simmel, the Jew as antisemitism's object represents the guilty conscience of Christian civilization. By accusing someone else instead of oneself, feelings of guilt can be avoided; this serves as a defense against the recognition of one's own guilt. From the perspective of religious psychology, there is also another reason for the antisemites' choice of projection object: the architectural structure of the Jewish religion offers through its conception of God an alternative form of overcoming (in this case, symbolically and abstractly) the early childhood ambivalence conflict, which antisemitism tries to resolve dualistically and concretely; the alternative conception hated by antisemites is what Simmel (1946, 61) describes as Judaism's religious transformation of a "material parental image to a spiritual collective superego," and that psychologically signifies nothing other than accepting in adulthood one's own childhood feelings of impotence around the parents (or the father image), thereby processing and historicizing it, instead of (necessarily unsuccessfully) rebelling against it, as antisemites try to do. This antisemitic crowd-oriented rebellion attempts to neutralize the fear of punishment, and also to sustain the desire for recognition and fulfillment.

Therefore, in accordance with Simmel, one can reaffirm the ultimate nonresolvability of the antisemitic conflict resolution model, since even the total annihilation of the Jews (through either assimilation or physical homicide) would simply rob the antisemites of their object and thereby impose upon them the necessity of finding another object for acting out their infantile strategy for resolving the ambivalence conflict. This is also the context for the complete denial of reality and absolute loss of touch with reality in antisemitic fantasies, because the actual goal is to rationalize the aggressive drive energies of the antisemites, and because their (sometimes contradictory) accusations against the Jews must necessarily lead to emotional ambivalences, due to the attempt within the psychotic crowd situation to split the parent image into two parts: one beloved and one hated. Precisely because this split is paranoid, its results remain ambivalent, and the antisemitic crowd member believes in his false accusations--not despite, but because of, their irrationality--because only they can guarantee him, in his fantasy, the acquired psychological equilibrium and the apparent power of an adult.

Beyond the deficits already mentioned, a major deficiency of this outline of a political theory of antisemitism is its Christian focus: all of the above-mentioned social science theories of antisemitism were formulated in relationship to Christianity or to societies influenced by Christianity. This also applies to the empirical studies, and therefore to the assessment of these theoretical conjectures. This fails to account for Islamic antisemitism, which is especially relevant today, and that, beyond possessing theoretical foundations comparable to those of Christianity or adapted from them, also has its own independent history of antisemitism, connected to the Islamic religion itself (cf. especially Ansorge 2006; Benz & Wetzel 2007; Faber et al. 2006; Himpele 2008; Holz 2005; Kuntzel 2002, 2007; Lamprecht 2007; Milson 2003; Perry/Schweitzer 2002, 2008; Wistrich 1990, 2007; Wurst 2005). Even when, particularly in regard to the psychoanalytical and psychosocial dimension, one might suspect that the theoretical concepts discussed here could also bear considerable relevance to Islamic antisemitism, this can only remain speculative, requiring independent investigation. The contemporary transformation of globalized antisemitism, which beyond the Islamic variety also has an anti-American one (cf. especially Markovits 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007a, 2007b, 71; Markovits/Rensmann 2007, 155; Nirenstein 2005; Rosenfeld 2003), therefore remains a gap in this investigation.

Samuel Salzborn (1)


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(1.) Samuel Salzborn is a substitute professor of political science at the Institute for Political Science at the University of Giessen. Contact him at This study is based on the author's political science thesis (cf. Salzborn 2010). Sponsors include the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA).
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Author:Salzborn, Samuel
Publication:Journal for the Study of Antisemitism
Article Type:Report
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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