Publication date:22 December 2011
Length of book:258 pages
"Beneath the surface [of our society]," writes historian Robert Wistrich, are "ancient myths, dark hatreds, and irrational fantasies [that] continue to nourish antisemitism." But the larger question has to do with why we are so prone to believe them. To that end, Steven K. Baum has an answer. In this book, Baum carefully guides the reader through the social mind and explains how the formation of social beliefs can be used as a narrative to determine reality. He offers a new perspective regarding how antisemitic legends and folk beliefs form the basis of our ongoing social narrative. Baum asks the reader to consider a social unconscious-the cauldron of cultural fantasies that consists of superstitions, magical thinking, and racial tales. This witches' brew concocts a Social Voice that can be loud or quiet, benign or hostile, fleeting or permanent. Most importantly, this voice is undeniably antisemitic and racist. As is often the case in the court of public opinion, those who own the narrative, win. In Antisemitism Explained, Baum reminds us to think critically about our own social narrative and to be careful about what we choose to believe.
Steven Baum has written an insightful study of the social psychology and pathology of the world's oldest hatred, antisemitism. That it has returned virulently to many parts of the world, within living memory of the Holocaust, is a phenomenon of great significance and danger. This book could not have appeared at a more fateful time.