The "New Antisemitism"

Repost from the old site. I’ll proudly don this label, though I admit that some (or many) practitioners of this new form of “the oldest hatred” (sic) are taking it way too far into what I call “vulgar anti-Semitism”. As a basic philosophical position, this blog will take the logical Left position of embracing a reasonable form of “new antisemitism” while in general taking a principled Left line (at the very least following Paul de Man’s wartime essays and Jacques Derrida’s interpretation of his writing)* in opposing vulgar anti-Semitism as an example of backwardness, stupidity, lazy thinking, racism and in general, just reactionary bullshit. Confused? Good. Deal with it, anti-Semites and Jewish nationalists. *The link is to some deconstructionist stuff starring Derrida, Paul De Man and some others, and the subject is as abstruse as most of that stuff is. For this who don’t feel like wading through the post-structuralist mud, I will try to sum it up: During WW2, in 1942, Paul De Man wrote some anti-Semitic articles for the Vichy Nazi press in France. De Man later went on to become one of the big deconstructionist guys. So it came out that he had written this Vichy Nazi stuff, and it was a big scandal. Derrida “deconstructed” his work and noted that in his work, De Man had argued against “vulgar anti-Semitism”, which is more of an “I know it when I see it” thing than something well-defined. Nevertheless, his article would still be seen as anti-Semitic by any reasonable reader. So Derrida, in deconstructing De Man, wrote that since all anti-Semitism was vulgar necessarily, De Man, in condemning vulgar anti-Semitism and not mentioning any other kind, was actually condemning all anti-Semitism. This set off a spate of articles back and forth in deconstructionist circles.


Goldberg, David Theo. 1993. Racist Culture: Philosophy and the Politics of Meaning, pp. 229-230. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers Inc. Patai, Daphne, Corral, Wilfrido Howard. 2005. Theory’s Empire: An Anthology of Dissent. Spitzer, Alan B., Chapter 17, The Debate Over the Wartime Writings of Paul De Man. The Language of Setting the Record Straight. New York: Columbia University Press
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