The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Lévi-Strauss, and the Jewish Struggle with Modernity

By John Murray Cuddihy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
THE ANCIENT JUDENFRAGE

Freud came out of the Jewish Middle Ages only to enter the Jewish middle classes. Entering a highly developed and developing Europe, coming from behind, like Marx—and all the other intellectuals of the nineteenth-century Diaspora—he developed a modernization "complex." The very "backwardness" of shtetl Yiddishkeit gave its sons a kind of perspective from behind, d rebours, on the civilization of Europe. If you will, a "lead of the retarded" took the form of the "punitive objectivity" of the nonmember. To accept the achievement of Western modernization at its own self-estimation would have been to downgrade themselves. And who enjoys doing that? Shtetl ascriptivities, as they prolonged themselves into the Europe of Jewish Emancipation, revealed surprising and embarrassing staying power. What was normal in the shtetl Gemeinschaft looked bad in the West. Jewry, in general, was making a "scene" in Gesellschaft, and everybody knew it, though few would admit it: the Jews were too ashamed, the liberal Gentiles too "nice." Marx had declared it openly from the start, using it as the fulcrum of his "Marxism." (He was rewarded by being called a "self-hater," a Jewish anti-Semite.)

The problem renews itself again and again, as "Jewish Emancipation" occurs again and again. Freud's critique of the developmental vicissitudes of the sexual instinct in the European modernization process was structurally equivalent to Marx's critique of the proud boast of European "civil society" (as Hegel had rendered it) to have overcome the egoism of bourgeois economic self-interest after its emancipation from feudal controls. Marx unmasked this false universalization, claiming that the state had not "assimilated" these egoistic interests—had not "refined them behind their back," so to speak—into identification with the Common Good of the political community, but that, on the contrary, these individual- and group-particularistic interests were using the "universal" state as a means to their end. The tail was wagging the dog. For Marx, Jewish "pariah capitalism" was "exhibit A" in the failure of the state to "assimilate" bourgeois society, and for him it revealed, in coarse and unmistakable form—more "honestly," so to speak—the very greed that the more "spiritual" Christian businessmen concealed beneath the proprieties and civilities of their economic and social exchanges.

-64-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Lévi-Strauss, and the Jewish Struggle with Modernity
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 272

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.