- Format: Hardcover
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-0495-3
- Pages: 160
- Publisher: Manchester University Press
- Price: £75.00
- Published Date: February 2017
- BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography, Sociology & anthropology, Social & cultural anthropology, Society & social sciences / Political science & theory, Political science & theory, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural, POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory, Society & social sciences / Sociology & anthropology
Universalism shows two faces to the world: an emancipatory face that looks to the inclusion of the other, and a repressive face that sees in the other a failure to pass some fundamental test of humanity. Universalism can be used to demand that we treat all persons as human beings regardless of their differences, but it can also be used to represent whole categories of people as inhuman, not yet human or even enemies of humanity.
The Jewish experience offers an equivocal test case. Universalism has stimulated the struggle for Jewish emancipation, but it has also helped to develop the idea that there is something peculiarly harmful to humanity about Jews - that there is a 'Jewish question' that needs to be 'solved'. This original and stimulating book traces struggles within the Enlightenment, Marxism, critical theory and the contemporary left, seeking to rescue universalism from its repressive, antisemitic undertones.
'Fine and Spencer are excellent in showing how universalism both offered a progressive pathway to emancipate Jews and a means to suppress their particularity. They meticulously probe the conundrum of whether, in Enlightenment thought and practice, Jews could only be humans and never Jews.'
Robin Cohen, University of Oxford
'Fine and Spencer have contributed some very sensitive, and sensible, analyses of attitudes towards antisemitism and the Jewish question from universalist thinkers, beginning with the Enlightenment and going on through to current debates on the left about Israel.'
Steven Beller, Independent scholar, Washington D.C., Patterns of prejudice, 2017, Vol. 51, No. 5
'Antisemitism and the Left is definitely recommended reading for all those interested in the functioning of antisemitism past and present. Fine and Spencer's claim that the contradiction embedded in the idea of universalism as the founding principle of the Enlightenment and the subsequent intellectual formations it inspired has been an important factor generating and sustaining the Jewish question applies not only to the tradition of the Left but also to modern Western thought in general.'
Robert Fine is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick
Philip Spencer is Emeritus Professor in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Kingston University and Visiting Professor in Politics at Birkbeck, University of London
Introduction: universalism and the Jewish question
1 Struggles within Enlightenment: Jewish emancipation and the Jewish question
2 Marx's defence of Jewish emancipation and critique of the Jewish question
3 Antisemitism, critical theory and the ambivalences of Marxism
4 Political life in an antisemitic world: Hannah Arendt's Jewish writings
5 The Jewish question after the Holocaust: Jürgen Habermas and the European left
6 The return of the Jewish question and the double life of Israel