Adorno & Horkheimer: Dialectic of Enlightenment

14 October 2019


Anti-Semitism as a popular movement has always been driven by the urge of which its instigators accuse the social democrats: to make everyone the same. Those without the power to command must fare no better than ordinary people. From the German civil servant to the Negroes in Harlem, those avidly emulating their betters have always known that they would really gain nothing but the satisfaction of seeing others no better off than themselves. The Aryanization of Jewish property, which in any case primarily benefited those at the top, enriched the masses in the Third Reich hardly more than the wretched booty pillaged from Jewish quarters enriched the Cossacks. The real benefit it brought was a half-understood ideology. That the demonstration of its economic futility heightened rather than moderated the attraction of the racialist panacea points to its true nature: it does not help human beings bur assuages their urge to destroy. The actual advantage enjoyed by the racialist comrade is that his rage will be sanctioned by the collective. The less he gains in any other way, the more obstinately, against better knowledge, he clings to the movement. Anti-Semitism has proved immune to the charge of inadequate profitability. For the common people it is a luxury.

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