Organized Anti-Semitism in America: The Rise of Group Prejudice during the Decade 1930-40

By Donald S. Strong | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
Anti-Semitism Throughout the World

THIS STUDY is an effort to throw some light on the growth of fascism in the United States. Two difficulties confront the person who attempts to inquire into this subject. First, the growth of fascism in the United States is too broad a subject for any one study to handle adequately. Secondly, the term fascism is vague and unsatisfactory. It has been used so extensively as a polemical term and it has so many different connotations to so many groups that it is hardly suitable for use in this study. The first difficulty may be solved by confining oneself arbitrarily to one phase of the subject that is loosely called fascism -- to a phase that would come within almost anyone's definition of fascism. The second difficulty may be met by showing how that which is called fascism fits in a general way into the framework of concepts that are developed in this study.

The special phase of fascism with which this study deals is the host of anti-semitic organizations that have developed in the United States since 1933. Although organizations of this type -- particularly such highly publicized groups as the German-American Bund and the Silver Shirts -- have been discussed in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, to date they have not been subjected to any comprehensive or systematic examination. The purpose of this study is to provide such a thoroughgoing examination and simultaneously to orient these organizations in the broad sweep of world political movements. In connection with the latter point, it is pertinent to note here that the ideology spread by anti-semitic groups in the United States is the same as that which accompanied certain political developments in Russia before World War I, in Poland and Hungary shortly after that war, and more recently in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

What is the significance of anti-semitic organizations in the United States? What is the relation of these groups to what is generally termed fascism in the United States. In order to be able to answer these questions adequately, it is necessary to present them in language better adapted to a precise examination of the subject.

At the outset we must note that within any society there exists what may be termed roughly the ruling class or, more precisely, the

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