Jews, Paupers, and Other Savages

Derek J. Penslar

in Shylock's Children

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520225909
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925847 | DOI:
Jews, Paupers, and Other Savages

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter talks about the irrationality of prejudice, its constant self-contradiction that appears most prominent in the case of anti-Semitism. Jews, anti-Semites have claimed, are clannish but eager to assimilate, a teeming mass but an esoteric cabal, capitalists and communists, plutocrats and paupers. Anti-Semitic feeling was rooted in Christendom; the forms anti-Semitism has taken over the centuries, and the relationship between those forms, are the products of specific social realities that change over time and across space. Anti-Semitism has been an expression of cultural anxiety, an outlet for the annunciation of social tensions, and, as such, has shared structural and group-psychological similarities with social discourse about other anxiety-inducing groups, the “dangerous classes” on or beyond the margins of the social order.

Keywords: anti-Semitism; Jews; anti-Semites; esoteric cabal; capitalists; communists; plutocrats; paupers; Christendom; dangerous classes

Chapter.  16172 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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