To effectively fight anti-semitism we need socialism

Anti-semitism is on the rise in Marin. At Redwood, I have seen Nazi symbols carved on desks, overheard students openly praising Hitler’s manifesto and witnessed people online making lists of Jewish students. In April of 2023, Neo-Nazi flyers from the Goyim Defense League, a large anti-semitic hate group founded in Petaluma, appeared in Kentfield and San Anselmo. This anti-semitism, rather than being a result of individual bigotry, is directly tied to capitalism’s inequality, and in order to work against anti-semitic hatred, we must move towards a socialist economy.

Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and the distribution of resources based on profit instead of human good. Control over the economy by a few people creates massive inequality, as society is stratified into two classes: the capitalist class and the working class. For example, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Elon Musk control over $500 billion worth of capital – more wealth than is owned by half the country. Additionally, capitalism’s market system has created brutal cycles of inflation and recession, both of which have hurt the working class while enriching the capitalist class.

“The point of [anti-semitic] oppression is to keep a Jewish face in front, so that Jews, instead of ruling classes, become the target for peoples’ rage.”

— April Rosenblum

When capitalism inevitably impoverishes millions, chaos and instability ensues, angering many working-class people. Members of the capitalist class have historically redirected the anger of the working class at Jewish people, in order to ensure that the working class does not attack capitalism, but rather Jews. To be clear, this anti-semitism is not the result of some grand conspiracy of capitalists, but as a result of individual capitalist groups doing what is most profitable for themselves. In this way, capitalism employs anti-semitism to defend itself.  

This link between anti-semitism and capitalism has been made abundantly clear during  Argentina’s ongoing financial crisis. Argentina is a victim of capitalism, still grappling with the legacy of an anti-communist US-backed puppet dictatorship and drowning in debt from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a capitalist financial agency that gives out predatory loans and forces austerity policies on developing countries. The far-right has weaponized anti-semitism to protect capitalism, blaming Jews, rather than capitalism, for the country’s problems. Graffiti pieces reading “Jews = IMF” have been spotted on Argentinian streets, and anti-semitic incidents continue to rise in Argentina. Argentina’s economic death spiral was caused by the capitalist system of imperialist economic exploitation enforced by the IMF – but it has been Jews, rather than the IMF, who have felt the consequences.

Socialism is necessary to solve the problem of capitalism leading to anti-semitism. The IMF is a staunchly capitalist institution, using its vast economic leverage to starve poorer countries while enriching multinational corporations. Socialism is based on the everyday workers owning their workplaces, and because goods are allocated to meet people’s needs rather than profit, the unstable economic cycles that characterize capitalism are not present. Socialism, therefore, does not have the class hierarchy inherent to capitalism that inflames anti-semitism.

It’s true that anti-semitism existed long before capitalism, and will probably exist after it. Under feudalism, an economic system similar to capitalism, Jews were targeted during periods of economic crisis – for example, my ancestors were expelled from Spain during the 15th century for this very reason. And after abolishing capitalism, anti-semitic attitudes will still remain, requiring a dedicated anti-racist movement to exist even after changing our economic system. However, as an institution, capitalism still perpetuates anti-semitism, and it must be abolished. 

If we want to end anti-semitism, we must end capitalism. As a system built on genocide and slavery, it’s no surprise that capitalism gives rise to anti-semitic bigotry. Only a socialist system that emphasizes human rights and democracy can truly cure the issues that plague our society. Joining a socialist group, organizing an anti-capitalist labor union in your workplace or creating an anti-racist affinity group are excellent ways to fight anti-semitism in addition to ending the exploitation of capitalism.