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Discussion Starter · #261 ·
...Wagner seemed to view Jewishness as a sort of negative quality which could be abandoned. Wagner thought that Jews can redeem themselves from their Jewishness. That's a disturbing viewpoint as well...
Oh, come on, that's not disturbing, just irritating! I wish my nephew would stop listening to rap music, doing "gang" hand gestures, and wearing super baggy shorts with his underwear showing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #262 ·
The Independent article you've linked to does not really make the case for anti-semitism being regarded as somehow different from racism. As pianozach says, does it really matter? If prejudice, discrimination, hatred are clearly exhibited against a group of people on account of their ethnic origin or skin colour, it is to be abhorred.
True, racism is actually based on ethnic and social factors.
In business and civics, buying houses, etc, we cannot have discrimination, but do we have to like whatever cultural manifestations that people adopt or reinforce to the point of exaggeration or distraction? There must be regulation of some sort.

As a minority, even women do this; there is such a thing as appropriate business attire. Now they are "victims" to an exaggerated degree, causing legal problems for some innocent men.

One can point to manifestations of racism (acts, behaviours, speech) that are more subtle or more gross, but all manifestations should be countered accordingly.
The same could be said for ethnic and social kinds of dress and speech patterns and music. In the workplace, I saw a Hispanic girl turn up her music player and blasting cojunto music so loud it drove her co-worker to distraction, and she did this on purpose.
 

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^ Wagner didn't ever, as far as I know, propose to kill Jews or get rid of them by force.
Indeed he did. He advocated "eliminating" Jews from Germany. That would be "getting rid of them".

I'm reminded of the character of the jewish Herr Schultz in Cabaret (the stage musical, not the film), who could not understand the concept of otherness. He was a jew and he was German. Why would someone want to remove Germans from Germany simply because they're also jewish?

The character, of course, represents all jews in this position; these are people that were born in Germany, raised in German, and grew up thinking they were German. And then the government starts demonizing jews, then later segregating them in slums, and eventually concentration camps.
 

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"Is Antisemitism Racism?"

Depends on who you ask, I suppose.

And if you ask me, yes, it is.
I think to make them equal to each other, then you have diminished the particularly insidious nature of anti-semitism.

Racism is a spectrum from "I think they are not quite human, sort of monkey-like", through to "they're human, but I'd rather they didn't live next to me or date my daughter" through to "they should be compelled to go back to their home countries".

It is quite rare, I think, for modern-day racists to be at the 'they're sub-human' end of the spectrum. Most people's discomfort with people not of their own race is squarely in the 'I don't think them inferior, but I don't want them round me' space.

Anti-semitism has a history that goes back millenia; one form of it is based on the idea that they killed Christ; at one time it routinely consisted of the idea that they went around abducting and killing Christian children to be able to drink their blood. From the middle ages onwards, it became associated with the idea that the Jew was monetarily greedy, a financial parasite. In modern times, it consists of the idea that individual Hungarian Jews can crash the pound or the New York Stock Exchange at will and profit to the tune of billions whilst doing so. And from the amalgam of all that came the idea that they are here, and look like us, but can never really be like us -and, by the way, they are revolting parasites that killed the Son of God and are a clear and present danger to everyone else.

There is no antisemitism that doesn't involve or rely on racism. But it's a serious mistake to equate them. Racism leads to inequality, and dehumanisation, and riots. It generally does not -has not- lead to gas chambers, and before that pogroms and massacres the length and breadth of a continent.

It is to compare my cat and the blue whale and declare them both mammals. It's not wrong, but it's kind of missing the point.

Racism is based on the idea that there are different human races: the 'white race', the 'black race', the 'yellow race', the 'red race'. People of the same race are assumed to share certain characteristics. Hitler and the Nazis also believed that people could be divided into races. And they believed that the races were in competition with each other. According to the Nazis, the Jews were a weak, dangerous, and inferior race that did not belong in Germany.
That's a quote from the Anne Frank Museum website: it's good to cite your sources if you're going to quote them.

Their argument is overly-simplistic. Hitler didn't think badly of the Jews because they were a separate race. He despised them as a pestilence, that undermined the strength of a country insidiously and all-pervasively. Yes, in 1933ish, the idea was that the Jews shouldn't belong in Germany. But it wasn't because they were weak or inferior, but because they were a strong, deadly, insidious, fiendishly clever at ingratiating themselves, parasitical threat to the country. They had, after all, stabbed Germany in the back and made it lose the first world war, hadn't they!?

So, yes, Jews are not a "race", but even so, some people still believe in the concept.

If it is the basis for their hatred of Jews, it is undoubtedly racist.
Well, no, not really. Historically, as I said, the hatred has been based on the fact they killed Christ and charged interest when Christians couldn't and went around murdering young children so as to drink their blood. It helps if they have big noses and curlicue hair under big black felt hats, so you can spot them easily enough. But they generally don't have black, yellow or red skin... and by the time we get to 1935 and the passing of the Nuremberg laws, it doesn't matter how white your skin is and whether you were baptised at birth or not: if you had a couple of Jewish grandparents in your family tree, you were to be excluded from society (though not yet to be exterminated).

And splitting hairs over degrees of racism is counterproductive.
Well, it has degenerated into that, so I agree with you. But the fundamental issue is not one of degree; it's of different causes and the various potential different 'cures'. Racism can be fixed, perhaps, by multiculturalism, intermarriage, school bussing (well, they might tackle some of the symptoms, at least). People generally get embarrassed about being identified as racist. Few antisemites are or were ever embarrassed about being so identified, and the cure for antisemitism is to eliminate the Jew (by expulsion, the occasional pogrom & massacre at a pinch, perhaps). Until we get to about 1941 when "eliminate" takes on a whole different complexion.

I think antisemitism and racism share an underlying sociopathy: the ability to think of others as less desirable than yourself. But that's where the similarities end (and therefore 'degrees' don't come into it).

So, yes, both Wagner and Hitler were racists.
I'd have difficulty making that case for Hitler. He thought highly of Indians, for example (for they were the original Aryans); likewise, he had no problem with regarding the Japanese as honarary Aryans. I think he didn't much like blacks. And he certainly came to regard the Slavs as sub-human (maybe the clue was in their collective name?!). So, I guess he might well have been racist, but not in any obvious, coherent or reasoned fashion. As for Wagner: I have no idea: I'm simply not familiar with his views on race.

But both Wagner and Hitler were virulent antisemites.

Hitler found himself in a position of power to bring his racism to a horrific conclusion.
Again, I don't agree. He gained power and brought his antisemitism into effect. Different beast entirely.

The hypothetical here is whether Wagner, had he been in a position of power as Hitler was, would have committed a similar genocide. And, of course, we cannot know if that is true.
Indeed. And for that reason, I don't think it helpful to speculate on that really. The known fact is he was a declared antisemite who composed music for a living. The other known fact is that Hitler was a declared antisemite who ran a government for a living. Unless we are to assume that there are different degrees of antisemitism, I think it's enough to say 'Wagner was a declared antisemite'. Time and a change of circumstance would have meant the same psycopathy would therefore probably have had broadly the same outcome.

What we do know is that Wagner hated Jews because they were Jews, sounded jewish, acted jewish, and even "thought jewishly", and looked down on them as being a racially inferior group of people.

The splitting of hairs on degrees of racism is pointless, like comparing Olympic divers that dive from different heights as being a relevant point. One isn't MORE of a "diver" because men jump from a 27-metre-high (89 ft) platform while women jump from a 20-metre-high (66 ft) platform.
I didn't find any reference to the word 'race' in his essay on Jewishness in Music, I've got to say. I've done a search through the PDF multiple times for it: it's not there. I may have missed it, which is fine if so and I'd be happy to have it pointed out to me.

Anyway. My point is not degrees of racism. It's that he was an antisemite. And antisemitism, throughout history, has required the removal of Jews from a society -and if they won't go quietly, a bit of force has always been employed to make it happen.

There's a good discussion to be had on whether it's possible to have degrees of antisemitism -but the fundamental flaw in what you've written, it seems to me, is to not realise the profound difference there is between the nastiest racism and the nicest antisemitism. They are birds of entirely different feathers, though both rely on the ability to view others as "different from me".
 

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Really now. Where did he state he wanted Jews eliminated. And how did he advocate this. Can you please provide sources.
Yes, though only in translation (I read my Wagner like I read my Mein Kampf, in English, because the German is way to dense for me to deal with!)

Page 2 of his Jewishness in Music essay: seeing that it is much rather we who are shifted into the necessity of fighting for emancipation from the Jews.

Now, there's a certain ellipsis to turn 'emancipate from' into 'eliminate', but it's not much of a one. He wanted Germany to be free from the Jew, which requires that the Jew is eliminated (in some manner or other) from Germany.

He went on: But if emancipation from the yoke of Judaism appears to us the greatest of necessities, we must hold it weighty above all to prove our forces for this war of liberation

I'm not suggesting that he wanted to exterminate Jews. I'm saying, he wanted them out of German Art, and preferably out of Germany -and he was using fairly stiff language to say it. And I think if you start talking about a 'war of liberation', the idea of doing things a little bit forcefully is clearly on the cards.

But, unlike pianozach, to whom your question was originally addressed, I am certain that Wagner was not calling for Jews to be killed. Just for a little bit of encouragement to make them go elsewhere.
 

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^ Wagner didn't ever, as far as I know, propose to kill Jews or get rid of them by force. He also had religious and philosophical views which talk against such theory. What I can say is that Wagner seemed to view Jewishness as a sort of negative quality which could be abandoned. Wagner thought that Jews can redeem themselves from their Jewishness. That's a disturbing viewpoint as well but it's less extreme than viewing Jews as inherently inferior. Wagner's solution was that all Jews should abandon their Jewishness (not be killed as someone during the 20th century thought).

(I'll add a more thorough explanation in near future because I'm currently using my phone which is somewhat ineffective :).)
I'm going to be very interested in your explanation of how Jews can redeem themselves in Wagner's eyes (and no, you're absolutely right that he never advocated killing them). Because this passage:

Although the peculiarities of the Jewish mode of speaking and singing come out the most glaringly in the commoner class of Jew, who has remained faithful to his fathers' stock, and though the cultured son of Jewry takes untold pains to strip them off, nevertheless they shew an impertinent obstinacy in cleaving to him.


...is fairly unambiguous about Jewishness being something you cannot ever cleanse yourself of, no matter how educated or cultured you become.

In page 9 of his essay, he goes on at length how Bach might be strange to us, given that we know of Beethoven, but he says that's OK: as the head of the Sphinx is to the Human Form, so the strange periwigged music of Bach is to Beethoven: the one is a progression of, but not fundamentally different, from the other. But Mendelssohn doesn't get that pass:

Mendelssohn, on the contrary, reduces these achievements to vague, fantastic shadow-forms, midst whose indefinite shimmer our freakish fancy is indeed aroused, but our inner, purely-human yearning for distinct artistic sight is hardly touched with even the merest hope of a fulfilment

So having then slagged off Mendelssohn as being incapable of doing art properly, he then says: A like sympathy, however, can no other Jew composer rouse in us.

Now Mendellsohn was baptised -and if he doesn't pass muster with Wagner after that, I shall be intrigued to find how any other Jew might be able to pull the trick off!

Incidentally, and I don't want to prejudge your eventual reply, but saying "Ooh, he liked some Jewish conductors, and he let one conduct Parsifal" counts. We all know the strong homophobe who says "some of my best friends are gay" or the out-and-out racist who says, "Send 'em all back where they came from. But I'm having a beer with me ****** mate Winston down the pub tonight". That's people making allowances for the "flaw" they people they hate suffer from, not saying they can be "redeemed" of it!
 

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The Independent article you've linked to does not really make the case for anti-semitism being regarded as somehow different from racism. As pianozach says, does it really matter? If prejudice, discrimination, hatred are clearly exhibited against a group of people on account of their ethnic origin or skin colour, it is to be abhorred. One can point to manifestations of racism (acts, behaviours, speech) that are more subtle or more gross, but all manifestations should be countered accordingly.
It's true, the Independent article wasn't exactly the best I could find in a hurry. I've written at length about it in a reply to pianozach slightly above this reply to you: maybe that will encapsulate the point better.

Anyway, does it really matter? Yes, I'm afraid so, because racism led to slavery, and people being paid less, and not getting the same access to University, or to jobs... it tends not to lead to forced expulsion at best and gas chambers at worst. Antisemitism has a longer history than racism; it is more insidious than racism; it's triggered by a lot more than racism (i.e., it's not just someone's skin colour or mode of speech, but the fact that they suck blood and/or charge you interest, rule the world via shadowy levers of power, have a plan to take over the world... etc etc etc).

And, as I say, the "final solutions" to antisemtism have never consisted of abolishing this, or enacting that positive discrimination law, or setting up the other Racial Equality Commission, but has always consisted of property expropriation, expulsion, violence and murder, at least as far back as Edward I's expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290.

I do agree, however, that racism is bad and needs to be confronted. Antisemitsm likewise. And I've agreed that both are symptoms of the same underlying problem: seeing others as less than you. But yes, I think it helpful to maintain a clear distinction between racism and antisemitism.

If it helps the debate any, Wikipedia has an article on 'racial antisemitism', which it distinguishes from "religious antisemitism". The fact that "antisemitism" can be classified in these ways indicates to me, at least, that it's a superset of racism, not equivalent to it.
 

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Yes, though only in translation (I read my Wagner like I read my Mein Kampf, in English, because the German is way to dense for me to deal with!)

Page 2 of his Jewishness in Music essay: seeing that it is much rather we who are shifted into the necessity of fighting for emancipation from the Jews.

Now, there's a certain ellipsis to turn 'emancipate from' into 'eliminate', but it's not much of a one. He wanted Germany to be free from the Jew.

He went on: But if emancipation from the yoke of Judaism appears to us the greatest of necessities, we must hold it weighty above all to prove our forces for this war of liberation

I'm not suggesting that he wanted to exterminate Jews. I'm saying, he wanted them out of German Art, and preferably out of Germany -and he was using fairly stiff language to say it. And I think if you start talking about a 'war of liberation', the idea of doing things a little bit forcefully is clearly on the cards.

But, unlike pianozach, to whom your question was originally addressed, I don't think Wagner was calling for Jews to be killed. Just a little bit of encouragement to make them go elsewhere.
I agree with you. He indeed didn't want them to be killed but, yes, he was a fundamental antisemite.

When I was referring to his religious and philosophical views which would argue against him propagating killing Jews, I primarily meant his somewhat Buddhistic and Schopenhauerian sympathies. A good proof of that is his growing vegetarianism. It's thought that Wagner's vegetarianism sprang from ideas put forth by Schopenhauer, Georg Friedrich Daumer, and Gleïzès. Wagner contrasted Gleïzès' views about vegetarianism with those of Gobineau. In fact, the relationship between Gobineau and Wagner is often viewed as a perfectly warm and agreeable (imo Robert Gutman for example argues that Gobineau influenced Wagner significantly). Those two were on very different opinions - when Gobineau accused the Irish (a Celtic race) for opposing their English masters (as a Germanic race), Wagner took the side of the Irish. When Gobineau argued for slavery (of inferior races), Wagner argued for its abolition. In Hero-dom and Christendom Wagner gives an overview of Gobineau's ideas (which have been misinterpreted as his own) but rejects them in the second part of the essay. Wagner agreed with Gobineau in at least one matter - that there has occurred a degeneration of the human race but Wagner seems to reject the existence of a racially more heroic race because Christ (whom Wagner admired) was of mixed blood. Wagner saw that the heroism of Christ came from suffering and compassion, rather than the race ("Now what part can "Blood," the quality of Race, have played in fitting for the exercise of so holy a heroism?"). He for example says that Brahminic religion became lost because it's racial inequality was artificial and absurd. While Wagner seemed to admit that there exist higher and lower races (though some argue that he didn't support that), Wagner was much more focused on morals as such and the Schopenhauerian understanding of compassion:

The blood of suffering Mankind, as sublimated in that wondrous birth, could never flow in the interest of howsoever favoured a single race; no, it shed itself on all the human family, for noblest cleansing of Man's blood from every stain.

Cosima writes that Wagner was "downright explosive in favor of Christian theories in contrast to racial ones" (Cosima Wagner's Diaries, 3 June 1881) during Gobineau's 1881 visit. Wagner supported universal redemption of everyone (also Jews) while Gobineau's views seemed to be significantly more dependent on race, also when it comes to morals. Gobineau and Wagner show mutual admiration toward the other but this doesn't mean that they necessarily agreed about all matters, Wagner opposed racism to a rather heavy degree and probably didn't saw his own antisemitic views as racist. It's also supported by the fact that for Wagner Jewish ethnicity seemed to be a somewhat separate thing from Jewishness. In the ending of his infamous essay he brings Börne as an example of a Jew who was redeemed from his Jewishness:

To become Man at once with us, however, means firstly for the Jew as much as ceasing to be Jew. And this had Börne done. ... Without once looking back, take ye your part in this regenerative work of deliverance through self-annulment; then are we one and un-dissevered!

He literally says here that Jewishness can be abandoned and thus it's not something that is inherent of one race.
 

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I agree with you. He indeed didn't want them to be killed but, yes, he was a fundamental antisemite.

When I was referring to his religious and philosophical views which would argue against him propagating killing Jews, I primarily meant his somewhat Buddhistic and Schopenhauerian sympathies. A good proof of that is his growing vegetarianism. It's thought that Wagner's vegetarianism sprang from ideas put forth by Schopenhauer, Georg Friedrich Daumer, and Gleïzès. Wagner contrasted Gleïzès' views about vegetarianism with those of Gobineau. In fact, the relationship between Gobineau and Wagner is often viewed as a perfectly warm and agreeable (imo Robert Gutman for example argues that Gobineau influenced Wagner significantly). Those two were on very different opinions - when Gobineau accused the Irish (a Celtic race) for opposing their English masters (as a Germanic race), Wagner took the side of the Irish. When Gobineau argued for slavery (of inferior races), Wagner argued for its abolition. In Hero-dom and Christendom Wagner gives an overview of Gobineau's ideas (which have been misinterpreted as his own) but rejects them in the second part of the essay. Wagner agreed with Gobineau in at least one matter - that there has occurred a degeneration of the human race but Wagner seems to reject the existence of a racially more heroic race because Christ (whom Wagner admired) was of mixed blood. Wagner saw that the heroism of Christ came from suffering and compassion, rather than the race ("Now what part can "Blood," the quality of Race, have played in fitting for the exercise of so holy a heroism?"). He for example says that Brahminic religion became lost because it's racial inequality was artificial and absurd. While Wagner seemed to admit that there exist higher and lower races (though some argue that he didn't support that), Wagner was much more focused on morals as such and the Schopenhauerian understanding of compassion:

The blood of suffering Mankind, as sublimated in that wondrous birth, could never flow in the interest of howsoever favoured a single race; no, it shed itself on all the human family, for noblest cleansing of Man's blood from every stain.

Cosima writes that Wagner was "downright explosive in favor of Christian theories in contrast to racial ones" (Cosima Wagner's Diaries, 3 June 1881) during Gobineau's 1881 visit. Wagner supported universal redemption of everyone (also Jews) while Gobineau's views seemed to be significantly more dependent on race, also when it comes to morals. Gobineau and Wagner show mutual admiration toward the other but this doesn't mean that they necessarily agreed about all matters, Wagner opposed racism to a rather heavy degree and probably didn't saw his own antisemitic views as racist. It's also supported by the fact that for Wagner Jewish ethnicity seemed to be a somewhat separate thing from Jewishness. In the ending of his infamous essay he brings Börne as an example of a Jew who was redeemed from his Jewishness:

To become Man at once with us, however, means firstly for the Jew as much as ceasing to be Jew. And this had Börne done. ... Without once looking back, take ye your part in this regenerative work of deliverance through self-annulment; then are we one and un-dissevered!

He literally says here that Jewishness can be abandoned and thus it's not something that is inherent of one race.
You make a good point, but I fear you need to quote the entire paragraph!

Yet another Jew have we to name, who appeared among us as a writer. From out his isolation as a Jew, he came among us seeking for redemption: he found it not, and had to learn that only with our redemption, too, into genuine Manhood, would he ever find it. To become Man at once with us, however, means firstly for the Jew as much as ceasing to be Jew. And this had BÖRNE done. Yet Börne, of all others, teaches us that this redemption can not be reached in ease and cold, indifferent complacence, but costs - as cost it must for us - sweat, anguish, want, and all the dregs of suffering and sorrow. Without once looking back, take ye your part in this regenerative work of deliverance through self-annulment [37]; then are we one and un-dissevered! But bethink ye, that one only thing can redeem you from the burden of your curse: the redemption of Ahasuerus - Going under!

So you have to cease to be a Jew... but even that is not enough, for it cannot be done in ease and cold, but at a cost in sweat, anquish, suffering and sorrow.

That footnote at the mention of "self-annulment" points out that the original text was "an diesem selbstvernichtenden, blutigen Kampfe", which I would translate as "in this self-destructive and bloody fight".

So, even if I concede that Wagner thought a Jew could become non-Jewish, it was not going to be something done trivially or lightly, but would involve suffering, destruction and blood. Not exactly what I'd call a recipe for widespread implementation in the genteel middle-class households of mid-nineteenth century German Jewish homes!

I hesitate, though, because the very final sentence is problematic: "But bethink ye, only one thing can redeem you from the burden of your curse: the redemption of Ahasuerus - Going under!"

"Ahasureus" is the name Kant gave to the 'The Wandering Jew', who in a different context was the Jew who laughed at Christ on the cross and thus was cursed to wander the Earth in eternity thereafter. That's a kind of parallel to The Dutchman who once invoked Satan and is cursed to sail the seas for ever in consequence -and his salvation turned out to be Senta drowning herself ('Going under'). So what does that last sentence really say: only one thing can redeem you really, and that's to kill yourself?

So, I don't know whether to concede the point or not. At the very least, Wagner has said that negation of Jewishness is not going to be 'easy', but require suffering and sorrow, want and anguish and blood. A cheap-shot would be to say, 'pretty much as 6 million were to end up not being Jewish by 1945', but I'll try and restrain myself!!

At worst, he's saying that it's so difficult to do, that only death is the reliable way to stop being Jewish. (Though it's quite possible I've garbled the reference to Ahasureus, in which case I hope enlightenment will be coming along from some direction or other soon enough!)

So, it's good you pointed us there, but I'm not convinced.
 

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I agree with you. He indeed didn't want them to be killed but, yes, he was a fundamental antisemite.

When I was referring to his religious and philosophical views which would argue against him propagating killing Jews, I primarily meant his somewhat Buddhistic and Schopenhauerian sympathies. A good proof of that is his growing vegetarianism. It's thought that Wagner's vegetarianism sprang from ideas put forth by Schopenhauer, Georg Friedrich Daumer, and Gleïzès. Wagner contrasted Gleïzès' views about vegetarianism with those of Gobineau. In fact, the relationship between Gobineau and Wagner is often viewed as a perfectly warm and agreeable (imo Robert Gutman for example argues that Gobineau influenced Wagner significantly). Those two were on very different opinions - when Gobineau accused the Irish (a Celtic race) for opposing their English masters (as a Germanic race), Wagner took the side of the Irish. When Gobineau argued for slavery (of inferior races), Wagner argued for its abolition. In Hero-dom and Christendom Wagner gives an overview of Gobineau's ideas (which have been misinterpreted as his own) but rejects them in the second part of the essay. Wagner agreed with Gobineau in at least one matter - that there has occurred a degeneration of the human race but Wagner seems to reject the existence of a racially more heroic race because Christ (whom Wagner admired) was of mixed blood. Wagner saw that the heroism of Christ came from suffering and compassion, rather than the race ("Now what part can "Blood," the quality of Race, have played in fitting for the exercise of so holy a heroism?"). He for example says that Brahminic religion became lost because it's racial inequality was artificial and absurd. While Wagner seemed to admit that there exist higher and lower races (though some argue that he didn't support that), Wagner was much more focused on morals as such and the Schopenhauerian understanding of compassion:

The blood of suffering Mankind, as sublimated in that wondrous birth, could never flow in the interest of howsoever favoured a single race; no, it shed itself on all the human family, for noblest cleansing of Man's blood from every stain.

Cosima writes that Wagner was "downright explosive in favor of Christian theories in contrast to racial ones" (Cosima Wagner's Diaries, 3 June 1881) during Gobineau's 1881 visit. Wagner supported universal redemption of everyone (also Jews) while Gobineau's views seemed to be significantly more dependent on race, also when it comes to morals. Gobineau and Wagner show mutual admiration toward the other but this doesn't mean that they necessarily agreed about all matters, Wagner opposed racism to a rather heavy degree and probably didn't saw his own antisemitic views as racist. It's also supported by the fact that for Wagner Jewish ethnicity seemed to be a somewhat separate thing from Jewishness. In the ending of his infamous essay he brings Börne as an example of a Jew who was redeemed from his Jewishness:

To become Man at once with us, however, means firstly for the Jew as much as ceasing to be Jew. And this had Börne done. ... Without once looking back, take ye your part in this regenerative work of deliverance through self-annulment; then are we one and un-dissevered!

He literally says here that Jewishness can be abandoned and thus it's not something that is inherent of one race.
And PS.

There are two issues you're addressing here. 1) Would Wagner have advocated killing Jews and 2) Did he think Jewishness was an inbuilt trait that could never be expunged.

I've explained at length above my response to (2) -post #271.

Here, and in respect of (1), I'm simply going to dismiss all the good stuff you cite about Schopenhauer and so on as indicating that Wagner would never have advocated for killing Jews... because I think we're all agreed that he never advocated killing Jews!

Whatever the philosophical blocks to his doing so may have been or not been, the socio-economic and technical circumstances just weren't there to make mass killing even feasible, let alone desirable. You would need the First World War to bring those conditions into existence. Without that, Wagner, nasty piece of work though he might have been, and undoubted anti-semite though he was, didn't need any philosophy to restrain him from doing that which he would simply never have conceived possible in the first place.
 

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You make a good point, but I fear you need to quote the entire paragraph!

Yet another Jew have we to name, who appeared among us as a writer. From out his isolation as a Jew, he came among us seeking for redemption: he found it not, and had to learn that only with our redemption, too, into genuine Manhood, would he ever find it. To become Man at once with us, however, means firstly for the Jew as much as ceasing to be Jew. And this had BÖRNE done. Yet Börne, of all others, teaches us that this redemption can not be reached in ease and cold, indifferent complacence, but costs - as cost it must for us - sweat, anguish, want, and all the dregs of suffering and sorrow. Without once looking back, take ye your part in this regenerative work of deliverance through self-annulment [37]; then are we one and un-dissevered! But bethink ye, that one only thing can redeem you from the burden of your curse: the redemption of Ahasuerus - Going under!

So you have to cease to be a Jew... but even that is not enough, for it cannot be done in ease and cold, but at a cost in sweat, anquish, suffering and sorrow.

That footnote at the mention of "self-annulment" points out that the original text was "an diesem selbstvernichtenden, blutigen Kampfe", which I would translate as "in this self-destructive and bloody fight".

So, even if I concede that Wagner thought a Jew could become non-Jewish, it was not going to be something done trivially or lightly, but would involve suffering, destruction and blood. Not exactly what I'd call a recipe for widespread implementation in the genteel middle-class households of mid-nineteenth century German Jewish homes!

I hesitate, though, because the very final sentence is problematic: "But bethink ye, only one thing can redeem you from the burden of your curse: the redemption of Ahasuerus - Going under!"

"Ahasureus" is the name Kant gave to the 'The Wandering Jew', who in a different context was the Jew who laughed at Christ on the cross and thus was cursed to wander the Earth in eternity thereafter. That's a kind of parallel to The Dutchman who once invoked Satan and is cursed to sail the seas for ever in consequence -and his salvation turned out to be Senta drowing herself ('Going under'). So what does that last sentence really say: only one thing can redeem you really, and that's to kill yourself?

So, I don't know whether to concede the point or not. At the very least, Wagner has said that negation of Jewishness is not going to be 'easy', but require suffering and sorrow, want and anguish. A cheapshot would be to say, 'pretty much as 6 million were to end up not being Jewish by 1945', but I'll try and restrain myself!!

At worst, he's saying that it's so difficult to do, that only death is the reliable way to stop being Jewish. (Though it's quite possible I've garbled the reference to Ahasureus, in which case I hope enlightenment will be coming along from some direction or other soon enough!)

So, it's good you pointed us there, but I'm not convinced.
I'm not sure whether Wagner was simply not able to reject the temptation to talk about redemption more generally. Thus, a way it could be seen is that any kind of redemption requires "sweat, anguish, want, and all the dregs of suffering and sorrow" which he rather well proves in all his operas. He saw universal suffering as a source of redemption of the whole humankind and thus I think this maybe should (at least could) be freed from its restrictions to redemption from Jewishness. Any sort of redemption of any of his characters requires all the listed thing and thus this sentence might not be limited to Jews only (I'm speculating again :)). The gods, particularly Wotan, gain their redemption through Brünnhilde's death - it's a more general concept Wagner uses, I think.

I thought about the last sentence as well but I decided to leave it out from the quotation because Wagner says that Börne did manage to gain his "redemption" (without having to kill himself) and therefore I prefer to view it as a literary technique to convey the need for the death of one (in Wagner's opinion) negative quality. If being redeemed from Jewishness required physical death of the quilty, Börne wouldn't have gained his "redemption". So, inner "Jewishness" (not Jew) must be killed. I think it meant accepting and joining the German culture, thus abandoning (i.e killing) the Jewish culture. Had it required physical death, I have no idea how Börne would have become a Man if he had just died. Such conversion into "genuine Manhood" wouldn't take place if the person just had to die.

Btw, how do you understand this line "From out his isolation as a Jew, he came among us seeking for redemption: he found it not, and had to learn that only with our redemption, too, into genuine Manhood, would he ever find it"? I can't make head or tail of what on earth Wagner exactly wanted to say. That living among Germans isn't enough if one isn't converted into its culture?

I also found the reference to the Wandering Jew from the last sentence and thought about that as well. I don't think that equating Dutchman to Ahasureus (or Wandering Jew) only, is correct because in A Communication to my Friends Wagner writes that Dutchman is a combination of the Wandering Jew (in the sense that he similarly yearns for his sufferings to be ended by death) and Ulysses. Wagner says that, differently from Ahasureus, the Dutchman is able to gain his redemption through a Woman (not death itself). Interestingly, Wagner also says that the figure of the Dutchman is a representation of a universal human trait. Namely, "the longing after rest from amid the storms of life" and thus I don't think Holländer should be seen as a guidebook about gaining redemption which Wagner wrote for Jews.
 

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And PS.

There are two issues you're addressing here. 1) Would Wagner have advocated killing Jews and 2) Did he think Jewishness was an inbuilt trait that could never be expunged.

I've explained at length above my response to (2) -post #271.

Here, and in respect of (1), I'm simply going to dismiss all the good stuff you cite about Schopenhauer and so on as indicating that Wagner would never have advocated for killing Jews... because I think we're all agreed that he never advocated killing Jews!

Whatever the philosophical blocks to his doing so may have been or not been, the socio-economic and technical circumstances just weren't there to make mass killing even feasible, let alone desirable. You would need the First World War to bring those conditions into existence. Without that, Wagner, nasty piece of work though he might have been, and undoubted anti-semite though he was, didn't need any philosophy to restrain him from doing that which he would simply never have conceived possible in the first place.
I think I just wasn't able to resist making that post because I found all that Gobineau stuff too interesting :lol:.
 
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True, racism is actually based on ethnic and social factors.
In business and civics, buying houses, etc, we cannot have discrimination, but do we have to like whatever cultural manifestations that people adopt or reinforce to the point of exaggeration or distraction? There must be regulation of some sort.
[etc]
Well, this is your thread. You can take it anywhere you like I guess. But I don't need to follow.

Anyway, does it really matter? Yes, I'm afraid so, because racism led to slavery, and people being paid less, and not getting the same access to University, or to jobs... it tends not to lead to forced expulsion at best and gas chambers at worst. [etc]
I think we'll have to agree to differ and leave it at that.
 

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Interesting thread, which I discovered just now. And I already have crossed swords with the usual suspect on this matter very regularly.

Apart from all the rude denials and ridiculisations by the usual suspect in early posts, I also see all kinds of subtleties in replies. But I didn't go through all 275 posts, so I might as well repeat earlier standpoints.

To me, it is crystal clear. R.Wagner has paved a platform for the rude unpolished nazi's and their extremist leader to be accepted by the German establishment, which led to the systemic holocaust.

The clear connection of Wagner's heritage with anti-semitism was made or enforced by Wagner's widow Cosima and his English posthumous daughter-in-law Winfred, who was parachuted into the Wagner family by her own parents by marrying the openly gay Siegfried Wagner and delivering the necessary heirs and falling in love with the (suspected gay) A.Hitler and introducing him as the sweet uncle Adolf to her kids and of course introducing him and his nazi-movement to Bayreuth. We will never know if the nazi's had come so far in actually executing their plans if Wagner had not created his pilgrimage. But the fact that he did, already says something about his totalitarian and megalomaniac ideas, as does his musical heritage.

Of course, there were (and still are) many racists all over the world. In the 1930's, you would find them in Germany, Russia, UK, USA and virtually each country. But Germany of course has taken it to the utmost extreme as racism was never so broadly and systemic established and executed.

It is of course absurd to discuss the 'fact' if Wagner has actively participated in the holocaust or not. He was long dead before it actually started. But the holocaust was the ultimate result of something that the Wagners absolutely have helped grow and florish and get accepted. The frequent ridiculisations throughout this entire thread are truly appalling and utterly stupid. There was a crystal clear connection between the Wagner family and the nazi's, based on anti-semitism. The nazi's could never have executed their systemic genocide without the broad acceptance of the German establishment and Bayreuth was an essential platform for the meeting of minds and acceptance of the executioners.

To this day, Wagner's music undoubtedly still is a code and symbol for racists, neo nazi's and secret anti semites all over the world. This of course does not mean that anyone who appreciates Wagner's music, automatically has similar sympathies. But Wagner's music will never be completely free from these associations. Well-deserved, I would add.
 

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^ You simply cannot say that Richard Wagner is to be held accountable for whatever stuff Wagner’s family has done and supported. As I have written extensively in this thread - there’s no reason to think that Wagner would have supported holocaust because his semi-religious, semi-philosophical thoughts condemned even killing and eating animals. You also cannot say that Wagner is responsible for how his works has been misinterpreted and misused by Nazis. Wagner saw his works as representation of the highest Art not as some political propaganda. Give me one quote from Wagner’s works or writings where he says explicitly that the works are representative of German superiority and are meant to convey anti-semitic stereotypes.

Hitler fell in love with Wagner when he was a teenager and I deeply doubt that at that time he thought about governing the world. There is also no proof, as far as I know, that Hitler had ever even read Wagner’s infamous essay. The fact that Hitler liked Wagner, like he liked Lehar and Bruckner, doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have been simply because he liked him musically. Claiming that holocaust wouldn’t have happened without Wagner imo overestimates his significance and influence. There was a huge amount of artists and people who shared similar antisemitic views as Wagner did. I see no reason why Wagner should be viewed as the man who singlehandedly enabled the whole Holocaust to happen and who created the racial theory (which he, as I proposed earlier, didn’t even support!). Had Hitler used Verdi similarly as he did Wagner, we might be discussing Jewish stereotypes in Il Trovatore instead of Ring. I’m willing to discuss these as we have done in this thread with AB, because Wagner’s work being anti-semitic cannot be neither proved nor disproved, but just stating such things is not fruitful.

I deeply doubt that a significant amount of Neo Nazis or racists know anything about Wagner or have heard a single work he has written. Making such statements based on no facts or proof is not reasonable in my opinion.
 

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To me, it is crystal clear. R.Wagner has paved a platform for the rude unpolished nazi's and their extremist leader to be accepted by the German establishment, which led to the systemic holocaust.
I won't go that far. It is clear that RW was an antisemite -but he wasn't the first, and he definitely wasn't the last. But it isn't apparent to me that this means Wagner "paved a platform for the nazis".

As I've tried to covey in earlier posts, I believe antisemitism is different in nature to "mere" racism, because its 'solution' points in a particular direction: removal of Jews from your vicinity. Racists might huff and puff at their coloured neighbours, and they might move to a whiter neibourhood in response (they tend not to think that shooting the coloured neighbours is an option); or they might express a desire for 'repatriating the *******' and so on -and they'll tend to huff and puff a bit when the government fails to introduce such a scheme (but they tend not to think that building a backyard gas chamber is an option). But the point about racism is that the "danger" is obvious and apparent: they look different from you. So, the problem is self-containing: if you see them coming, you can cross the street and avoid them.

Antisemitism, however, whilst potentially starting from the premise that they look weird, with little black boxes on their head, hook noses, and curly hair coming out of big felt hats, very quickly migrates from a concern about "The Jew" to a concern about "jewishness" -a "trait" that can lurk in people who look and sound exactly as you do. (And note that Wagner didn't write "Jews in Music", but "Jewishness in Music"). From there, it's a tiny step to 'geneticism': that Jewishness represents a genetic deficiency and threat to 'the race'. And we all know where that thinking leads.

So what I'm trying to say is that Wagner didn't pave the way for anyone, but antisemitism, by its nature, inevitably points to pogroms, massacres, property expropriation, expulsions. And, if you live in the mid-20th Century, with experience of chemical engineering, mass slaughter on the battlefields of Europe, and governments getting significantly involved in the lives of their citizens, you can organise things a little more efficiently and come up with Auschwitz.

Short version: Wagner didn't pave the way for Auschwitz to happen; but antisemitism inevitably led there. And Wagner was an antisemite (but so were a lot of people, not that that excuses him any).

The clear connection of Wagner's heritage with anti-semitism was made or enforced by Wagner's widow...
I won't engage with that part of your argument. What Cosima or her children and grandchildren did or didn't do isn't pertinent to what Richard got up to.

Of course, there were (and still are) many racists all over the world. In the 1930's, you would find them in Germany, Russia, UK, USA and virtually each country. But Germany of course has taken it to the utmost extreme as racism was never so broadly and systemic established and executed.
Again, racism doesn't lead to those sorts of extremes. Only antisemitism does.

It is of course absurd to discuss the 'fact' if Wagner has actively participated in the holocaust or not. He was long dead before it actually started.
We agree!

But the holocaust was the ultimate result of something that the Wagners absolutely have helped grow and florish and get accepted.
That's where I part company with you. Richard gave expression to something lots of people thought. It brought him quite some notoriety, not approval or applause (such that he had to tone-down the final paragraph of the essay when it was republished in the 1869 period, lest re-publishing in its original form damaged his, by now, considerable reputation). I don't think he helped antisemitism grow or flourish particularly: he merely gave "intellectual" expression to something which was already quite common.

The frequent ridiculisations throughout this entire thread are truly appalling and utterly stupid.
Again, I agree. The apparently seriously-stated expression of the idea that Schönberg's bald head is a 'Jewish trait' was quite appalling, really. Or the idea that RW was only complaining about Eastern European Jews who looked "different", so that makes it OK... Jeez, Louise!

There was a crystal clear connection between the Wagner family and the nazi's, based on anti-semitism. The nazi's could never have executed their systemic genocide without the broad acceptance of the German establishment and Bayreuth was an essential platform for the meeting of minds and acceptance of the executioners.
And I don't disagree with the idea that the Nazis needed 'cultural approval' to cement their hold over society. But that's irrelevant to a discussion about Richard Wagner, since he was 50 years dead by then. I get much more antsy about the likes of Carl Orff and Herbie Karajan in this context than I do about Wagner.

To this day, Wagner's music undoubtedly still is a code and symbol for racists, neo nazi's and secret anti semites all over the world. This of course does not mean that anyone who appreciates Wagner's music, automatically has similar sympathies. But Wagner's music will never be completely free from these associations. Well-deserved, I would add.
To be honest, I don't move in racist or antisemitic circles so I'm not sure if your first statement is true. The antisemites I see on TV news reports are usually young, skin-headed, mind-numbingly prone to violence, surprisingly pot-bellied for their age... and universally appear to have an intellect the size of a peanut, so I'd be quite honestly surprised if they had the wherewithal to even being to appreciate the first 30 seconds of anything written by Wagner!

I can listen to Wagner without any antisemitic associations (apart from maybe Mime; and I get a bit itchy at the end of Meistersinger when Sachs goes off on his Glorious German rant). But it's definitely an effort to do so. One has to sort-of consciously forget the composer, even though you never really can. But that might just be me.

I think anyone who mentions Wagner and thinks him no different from, say, Mozart, Bach or Brahms is definitely missing a serious point about him, though.
 

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^ You simply cannot say that Richard Wagner is to be held accountable for whatever stuff Wagner's family has done and supported. As I have written extensively in this thread - there's no reason to think that Wagner would have supported holocaust because his semi-religious, semi-philosophical thoughts condemned even killing and eating animals. You also cannot say that Wagner is responsible for how his works has been misinterpreted and misused by Nazis. Wagner saw his works as representation of the highest Art not as some political propaganda. Give me one quote from Wagner's works or writings where he says explicitly that the works are representative of German superiority and are meant to convey anti-semitic stereotypes. . . .
We also simply cannot say that Wagner had extremely objectionable social ideas (which he clearly did), and that it means his music is somehow inherently tainted. (Obviously things are slow if this ridiculous thread is still going.)
 

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I'm not sure whether Wagner was simply not able to reject the temptation to talk about redemption more generally. Thus, a way it could be seen is that any kind of redemption requires "sweat, anguish, want, and all the dregs of suffering and sorrow" which he rather well proves in all his operas. He saw universal suffering as a source of redemption of the whole humankind and thus I think this maybe should (at least could) be freed from its restrictions to redemption from Jewishness. Any sort of redemption of any of his characters requires all the listed thing and thus this sentence might not be limited to Jews only (I'm speculating again :)). The gods, particularly Wotan, gain their redemption through Brünnhilde's death - it's a more general concept Wagner uses, I think.
I think you have a good point there. As a Christian, too, of course... well, the whole point of it is that Christ redeems the sinner, isn't it!

I thought about the last sentence as well but I decided to leave it out from the quotation because Wagner says that Börne did manage to gain his "redemption" (without having to kill himself) and therefore I prefer to view it as a literary technique to convey the need for the death of one (in Wagner's opinion) negative quality. If being redeemed from Jewishness required physical death of the quilty, Börne wouldn't have gained his "redemption".
I think this is a point well-made, too. The only thing I'd say by way of push-back is that Börne's conversion to Protestantism is said to be a necessary precondition for 'regeneration' and 'un-disseverance', but whilst it's a requirement, it is clearly not sufficient. But yes... it gets murky at this point!

So, inner "Jewishness" (not Jew) must be killed. I think it meant accepting and joining the German culture, thus abandoning (i.e killing) the Jewish culture. Had it required physical death, I have no idea how Börne would have become a Man if he had just died. Such conversion into "genuine Manhood" wouldn't take place if the person just had to die.

Btw, how do you understand this line "From out his isolation as a Jew, he came among us seeking for redemption: he found it not, and had to learn that only with our redemption, too, into genuine Manhood, would he ever find it"? I can't make head or tail of what on earth Wagner exactly wanted to say. That living among Germans isn't enough if one isn't converted into its culture?
Again, a good point made in your first paragraph, and an excellent one made in your second: I can't make head nor tail of it either!

I also found the reference to the Wandering Jew from the last sentence and thought about that as well. I don't think that equating Dutchman to Ahasureus (or Wandering Jew) only, is correct because in A Communication to my Friends Wagner writes that Dutchman is a combination of the Wandering Jew (in the sense that he similarly yearns for his sufferings to be ended by death) and Ulysses. Wagner says that, differently from Ahasureus, the Dutchman is able to gain his redemption through a Woman (not death itself). Interestingly, Wagner also says that the figure of the Dutchman is a representation of a universal human trait. Namely, "the longing after rest from amid the storms of life" and thus I don't think Holländer should be seen as a guidebook about gaining redemption which Wagner wrote for Jews.
I will immediately agree with you that the Dutchman is a distraction, and I shouldn't have gone there. It's just that the parallels seemed to work and I couldn't really make sense of the 'Going Under' comment at the end of the paragraph without it. So let me retract all notions of the Dutchman, and instead, tackle that last word and sentence of the essay afresh, just as I would with one of my Bach translations.

First, the German original:

Uber bedenst, daß nur Eines eure Erlösung von dem auf euch lastenden Fluche sein kann die Erlösing Ahasvers - der Untergang!

And now my first-pass translation:

Remember that only one thing can be your redemption from the curse that weighs on you - the redemption of Ahasver - the <something>!

The final word of the essay is definitely a problem. That translation of the essay we've all been using says "Going Under!". I did wonder whether 'going under' might be a stand-in for "baptism" -as in, you go into the water a sinner, and after total immersion in the Jordan (say), you come out redeemed. So maybe he's saying: one thing only can save you: baptism!

But in the original German, it's "der Untergang". And if I'd been asked to translate that in a Bach cantata, I'd have reached for my 1853 Hilpert's dictionary (pretty much contemporaneous with Wagner's original essay) and found it offers 'the sinking, foundering, going down, scuttling (of a ship), ruin, downfall, decline' -so I think Baptism is definitely out!

So I think that last sentence really reads: "Remember that only one thing can be your redemption from the curse of the Wandering Jew: your destruction (or downfall)". It's not a good outcome, in other words!

Like you, I still don't see how that squares with his moments-earlier seeming approval of the conversion of Börne.

Can I just add that even going back to these essays leaves me feeling rather dirty, though -so I'm disinclined to puzzle at that apparent contradiction much further!
 
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