The Jewish Question

History of a Marxist Debate


In The Jewish Question: History of a Marxist Debate, Enzo Traverso explores the causes and the forms of the encounter that took place, from the middle of the nineteenth century to the Holocaust, between the intelligentsia of a cosmopolitan minority and the most radical ideological current of Western modernity. From Karl Marx to the Frankfurt School, the 'Jewish Question' — to a set of problems related to emancipation and anti-Semitism, cultural assimilation and Zionism — raised significant controversies within Marxist theory. Enzo Traverso carefully reconstructs this intellectual debate that runs over more than a century, pointing out both its achievements and its blind alleys.

This is the second edition, completely rewritten and updated, of a book already translated into many languages (originally published in French, then translated into English, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Turkish).
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Biographical Note

Enzo Traverso (1957) is Susan and Barton Winokur Professor in the Humanities at Cornell University. He has taught in different countries and published many books, translated into a dozen languages, among which are Fire and Blood: The European Civil War (Verso, 2016) and Left-Wing Melancholia (Columbia University Press, 2017).

Table of contents

Historicising the Marxist Jewish Question: Preface to the Second Edition Acknowledgements
1 Marx, Radical Enlightenment, and the Jews  1  Marx: the Jew as Geldmensch  2  Engels: the Jews as a ‘People without History’  3  The Struggle against Anti-Semitism
2 The Jewish Marxist Intelligentsia  1  Central Europe  2  Eastern Europe  3  Hypotheses
3 The German and Austrian Marxists (1880–1920)  1  Anti-Semitism  2  Zionism  3  The Paradigm of Assimilation: Otto Bauer  4  The Paradigm of Assimilation: Karl Kaustky
4 Russian Marxism (1900–20)  1  Lenin  2  Stalin  3  Trotsky  4  Rosa Luxemburg  5  Conclusion
5 Jewish Marxism  1  Russian Marxism and Jewish Marxism  2  The Jewish Workers’ Movement  3  National Autonomy: Vladimir Medem  4  Zionism: Ber Borokhov
Intermezzo: The Jews and the Russian Revolution (1917–37)
6 Gramsci and the Jewish Question
7 From Weimar to Auschwitz: Anti-Semitism and the German Left  1  The KPD: From the ‘Schlageter Line’ to the ‘Third Period’  2  The ‘Roofless Left’  3  Trotsky’s Warnings
8 The Messianic Materialism of Walter Benjamin  1  German Culture and Jewishness  2  Marxism  3  Critique of Progress  4  Historical Materialism and Theology  5  Outsider
9 The Theory of the People-Class: Abram Leon  1  Historiographical Limitations  2  Capitalism and Assimilation  3  Anti-Semitism  4  Solutions
10 Postwar Marxism and the Holocaust  1  The Frankfurt School  2  Ernest Mandel  3  Capitalism and the Holocaust
Glossary Chronology Bibliography Index


All interested in Marxist theory and Jewish history, and anyone concerned with intellectual history, political theory, and cultural sociology of the 19th and 20th centuries.


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