An early attempt by one of the world’s leading Jewish Communist theoreticians to counter early twentieth century anti-Semitism—which argued that Jews were an alien non-European race—by attempting to prove that the Jews do not constitute a specific race, but are rather a mixture of many different groups.
In this book, Karl Kautsky analyses physical traits and behavioural patterns among Jews and non-Jews alike, sets out what he sees as the definition of pure and mixed races, and then posits Jewish history over these two frameworks to draw his conclusion that the Jews are of mixed racial origins.
He also discusses the mental attributes of Jews and their propensity to urbanized commercial life—an attribute which Kautsky ascribes to centuries of selective in-breeding in the mercantile classes.
Although parts of this work have now been superseded by modern DNA tests (which have proven that Jews do indeed share a great genetic commonality), Kautsky’s discussion of Zionism, antiSemitism, and the future of Palestine and the assimilationist trends of World Jewry are still highly relevant and of importance to the present-day.
“Jews of the present day are not a pure race, either geographically or chronologically; even the most superficial acquaintance with their history will prove this statement.
“Judaism arose on the soil of Palestine, a border region between two areas, each of which embraces a distinct race, probably the result of the peculiarities of the two regions: in Palestine, the foot-hills of mountainous Asia Minor (in the widest sense of the word, therefore, including Armenia), whence originated the Armenoid type, and the beginnings of the extensive steppes of Arabia, extending as far as Mesopotamia.
“Primitive Israelitic history is of course still very obscure: the reports in the Bible are absolutely unreliable. But there is no doubt among scholars that the population of Palestine must have constituted a mixture of races at a very early period, however greatly they may differ in minor points.”
Finally Kautsky concludes that the real cause of the “Jewish Question” is religion, and Judaism in particular—and maintains that only when Judaism completely disappears will there be peace on this issue.
About the author: Karl Kautsky (1854–1938) was recognized as among the most authoritative promulgators of Orthodox Marxism after the death of Friedrich Engels and was called by some the “Pope of Marxism.” Following the First World War, Kautsky became an outspoken critic of the Bolshevik Revolution and its excesses, engaging in polemics with V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky on the nature of the Soviet state. A principal figure in the history of the Internationalist Socialist movement, he first became famous as editor of the fourth volume of Karl Marx’s economic critique of capitalism, Das Kapital.