International Review of Social History

Research Article

Socialist Anti-Semitism, Defense of a Bourgeois Jew and Discovery of the Jewish Proletariat

Changing Attitudes of French Socialists Before 1914*

Nancy L. Green

The anti-Semitism of the mid-nineteenth-century French socialists has often been cited. Charles Fourier saw the Jews as the incarnation of commerce: parasitical, deceitful, traitorous and unproductive. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon attacked the Jews even more violently, declaring the Jew the incarnation of finance capitalism and “by temperament an anti-producer”. The Fourierist Alphonse Toussenel argued in Les Juifs rois de l'époque that finance, that is to say, Jews, were dominating and ruining France, while Auguste Blanqui sprinkled his correspondence with remarks about Jewish usury and “Shylocks”, and in a general anticlerical critique blamed the Jews for having given birth to Catholicism, an even greater evil than Judaism. In the late 1860's Gustave Tridon, who was a close follower of Blanqui, wrote a book entitled Du Molochisme juif, in which he also attacked the Jews on anti-religious as well as racial grounds, in addition to using the usual economic terms of disparagement.


* I would like to thank M. Rebérioux and J. Rojahn for their very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.