Law, Antisemitism and the Holocaust
Routledge-Cavendish – 2008 – 138 pages
Whilst an increasing amount of attention is being paid to law's connection or involvement with National Socialism, less attention is focused upon thinking through the links between law and the emergence of antisemitism. As a consequence, antisemitism is presented as a pre-existent given, as something that is the object, rather than the subject of study. In this way, the question of law's connection to antisemitism is presented as one of external application. In this ironic mimesis of the positivist tradition, the question of a potentially more intimate or dialectical connection between law and antisemitism is avoided. This work differs from these accounts by explaining the relationship between law and antisemitism through a discussion of these issues by critical thinkers from the mid-nineteenth century to the present; that is, from Marx to Agamben through Nietzsche, Sartre, Adorno and Horkheimer, Arendt and Lyotard. Despite the variety that exists between each thinker, one particular common critical theme unites them. That theme is the connections they make, in diverse ways, between legal rights as an expression of modern political emancipation and the emergence and development of the social phenomenon of antisemitism.
'This is a dense and thought-provoking work which attempts both deep and broad analysis of political thought likely to be of interest to researchers working in the fields of jurisprudence, sociology, philosophy and politics.' - Therese O'Donnell, Law and Politics Book Review, Oct 2008
"Law, Antisemitism and the Holocaust is a welcome and very significant contribution to both critical theory and work on Jewishness and antisemitism. Seymour’s development of the idea of Holocaust dissolution/ressentiment is especially important at this particular moment; it captures, for me, a move that is not just part of the canon of continental critical theory, but also one I have seen take shape in socio-legal and other scholarship more widely." - Didi Herman, University of Kent. Social and Legal Studies, Volume 18, No.3 (September 2009)
Introduction: Time's Arrow. Law, Antisemitism and the Holocaust. Limits of Emancipation: Rights, Ressentiment and Antisemitism. Jews without Judaism, Judaism without Jews: Conceptualization of 'The Jews' and 'The Law' in Critical Thought. Radical Rupture or Critical Reflection: The Impact of the Holocaust on Theorizing Law and Antisemitism. Conclusion: Resisting Melancholia: Law Contra Antisemitism
David Seymour is a lecturer at Lancaster University Law School. His key research interests are law, antisemitism and the Holocaust; law and aesthetics; contemporary social and legal theory.