Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Antonio Gramsci, and the Myth of Niccolò Machiavelli

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This paper reconsiders the criticism to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion during its initial publication and after its resurgence during the 1917 Russian Revolution. It argues that scholars have overemphasized repudiations of the text’s archaic antisemitism and plagiarism at the expense of critiques focusing on its modernist invective against “media control.” The paper recovers the issue of the Russian Empire’s control of the media, which liberal thinkers identified as central to Protocols in its first three decades of circulation, followed by a consideration of Antonio Gramsci’s interwar theorization of media control as among the most salient efforts to respond to the text. In theoretical threads that would later be picked up by the intellectuals of the Frankfurt School, among others, Gramsci responded to Protocols’ core invective by espousing the need for progressive forces to take control over mass media.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-35
Number of pages18
JournalEast European Jewish Affairs
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Antonio Gramsci
  • Protocols
  • antisemitism
  • mass media
  • media control


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