Redemption and Utopia
Jewish Libertarian Thought in Central Europe
by Michael Löwy Translated by Hope Heaney
Part of the Radical Thinkers series
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288 pages / March 2017 / 9781786630858

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March 2017 / 9781786630872
Classic study of Jewish libertarian thought, from Walter Benjamin to Franz Kafka
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, there appeared in Central Europe a generation of Jewish intellectuals whose work was to transform modern culture. Drawing at once on the traditions of German Romanticism and Jewish messianism, their thought was organized around the cabalistic idea of the “tikkoun”: redemption. Redemption and Utopia uses the concept of “elective affinity” to explain the surprising community of spirit that existed between redemptive messianic religious thought and the wide variety of radical secular utopian beliefs held by this important group of intellectuals. The author outlines the circumstances that produced this unusual combination of religious and non-religious thought and illuminates the common assumptions that united such seemingly disparate figures as Martin Buber, Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin and Georg Lukács.


“Löwy explores in this remarkable study … a generation of Central European Jewish intellectuals of an antiauthoritarian political orientation who left a considerable mark on twentieth-century radical thought … As Löwy’s subtle and profound book reminds us, their legacy is a rich one.”

“An exceptional thinker.”

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