The Fake Threat of Jewish Communism

One of the great merits of Paul Hanebrink’s A Specter Haunting Europe is its demonstration of how Europe’s most pervasive and powerful twentieth-century manifestation of anti-Semitic thought—the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism—emerged before the rise of National Socialism and has continued to have a curious life long after the Holocaust and the defeat of Nazi Germany. Hanebrink’s approach is not to repeat what he considers an error of the interwar era—the futile attempt to refute a myth on the basis of historical facts and statistical data. Trying to discredit powerful political myths with mere facts, as we know all too well today, is a frustrating endeavor. Thus Hanebrink seeks instead to understand the historical background and the “cultural logic” of the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism—how it functioned and morphed through different phases. Ultimately Judeo-Bolshevism embodied, in the form of “Asiatic barbarism,” an imagined threat to national sovereignty, ethnic homogeneity, and Western civilization conceived as traditional European Christian hegemony. It fused, in short, political, racial, and cultural threats into a single “specter haunting Europe.”

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