A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism

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A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism
By Paul Hanebrink
Harvard University Press, 2018
368 pp.

The long history of anti-Semitism includes many strains. One of the more virulent and enduring is the phantasm of Judeo-Bolshevism—the notion that communism was, and remains, a Jewish plot. Hanebrink follows the myth’s twisted course from its European origins in the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution, through the jaundiced politics of the interwar period, to its devastating culmination in Nazi Germany. Yet World War II did not kill it, and he picks up the story with its reappearance in postwar Eastern European politics, where it was exploited by those on both sides of the ideological divide. He argues that it survives today in the resurgent right-wing nationalism cropping up in many Western countries. From the start, the fantasy held that an alien element—the Jews—aimed to subvert the cultural values and national identities of Western societies. As Hanebrink points out, this theme is echoed in modern anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. The writers, politicians, and shills whose poisonous ideas he exhumes have many contemporary admirers.

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