Religion and the Birth of Jewish Radical Politics

By Adam Sutcliffe

Association for Jewish Studies (AJS), Fall 2011

The disproportionate presence of Jews in the history of left-wing political movements has been widely noted - by historians, Jewish leftists themselves (who have often proudly romanticized this lineage), and their right-wing adversaries (among whom it has served as an enduring anti-Semitic theme). Radical Jews have almost always been vigorously anticlerical, and are usually considered as antithetical to religion in every way. In light of recent work by Talal Asad, Jose Casanova, Charles Taylor, and others that has complicated the relationship between religion, politics, and the slippery process we describe as "secularization," however, the place of religion in the emergence of Jewish political radicalism in the first half of the nineteenth century is due for reexamination. Despite their hostility to all traditional religious practice and their ambivalent or even hostile attitude to the Jewish collectivity, the trace of a Jewishly religious approach to the ethical meaning of history infused the thought of this first wave of Jewish radicals, up to and including Marx himself.

Topic: Political Behavior, History, Judaic Studies, Jewish Studies, Religion, Politics, Extremism

Name of Publication: AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies

Editor: Bunzl, Matti , Havrelock, Rachel

Volume/Issue: Fall 2011

Page Number(s): 34-35

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Genre: Article

Coverage: Europe

Identifier: ISSN 1529-6423

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Sutcliffe, Adam. Religion and the Birth of Jewish Radical Politics. AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies. Association for Jewish Studies (AJS). Fall 2011: 34-35.


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