Against lesser-of-the-two-evils-ism: on the article ‘Was the Jewish Bund anti-Semitic?’

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  ZJW 11 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #132985

    ALB
    Participant

    Alan has dug out a 1962 MA thesis of a US student, James Martin Swanson, on “An Analaysis if the Jewish Influence on Martov’s Revolutionary Career, 1891-1907”:https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/33368090.pdfAs it’s not easy to read online, here’s a summary ofthe part it on the so-called "Jewish Question":.Swanson’s basic thesis is:

    Quote:
    Although Martov's ideas were later to become altered in some respects, the crux of this discussion of the Jewish influence on Martov's revolutionary world view is his belief that emancipation must come about through identification with, if not participation in, the emancipation of the "universal struggling workers," in other words, through a revolution. (p.25)

    In other words, that Martov thought that Jewish emancipation could only come about as part of the emancipation of all humanity.Swanson draws a distinction between the Russian-speaking Jewish intelligentsia and the Yiddish-speaking Jewish proletariat and summarises the general view of the Jewish intelligentsia as:

    Quote:
    The Jewish intelligent [sic] did resent the autocracy for its oppressive measures against Russian Jewry but he also saw in a revolution the chance to be the equal of the Russian. To bring about this revolution, to guarantee the equality of the Jew and the Russian, the Jewish Intelligentsia could not "wait for assistance from above," as Martov was to say in I891, they had to work for it. The Jewish proletariat had to push aside their peculiar habits fostered by their life in the ghetto. They had to speak the Russian language. They had to break away from their religion which regulated every act of the daily existence—including dress and diet—which stood in the way of Russification. (p.11)

    He says that Martov’s experience in exile in Vilna (now Vilnius) in Lithuania to wjhere he chose to be exiled from St. Petersburg, as well as leading him to switch from propaganda to agitation, also changed his view on the use of Yiddish (if only to make agitation easier, indeed possible there):

    Quote:
    On May 1, 1895 Martov delivered an address, later published as a pamphlet under the title: "A Turning Point in the Jewish Labor Movement", which was to become an important document in Russian-Jewish socialist literature. Martov’s argument was that the success of socialism was due to the introduction of democratic and economic elements into the movement. He went on to point out that the hope of socialism in the future would rest on the solution it provides for the needs of the masses, and that the economic struggle of the worker would naturally lead him to battle eventually for political freedom. Most important, Martov’s May Day speech urged the organization of a special Jewish workingmans’ party. This was the first time in a public speech that a social democrat made any distinction between the needs of the Jewish worker and the Russian worker. Martov also suggested that the language spoken and written by the propagandist be changed from Russian to Yiddish—the only language understood by the masses of Jewish workers. (pp.27-8).

    However, when the Bund adopted a nationalist-autonomist position Martov opposed this:

    Quote:
    In 1901, however, the Bundist movement reached a turning point. At the Fourth Convention in Bialstok, the Bund expressed itself on the question of Jewish Nationalism. The convention pronounced itself in favor of a Russian state based on a federation of nationalities in which the Jews would become a constituent part. Martov opposed the declaration of the Bundist convention claiming that the whole idea was "bourgeois." But the assimilationist policy of the majority of Jewish intellectuals was overridden by the non-intelligentsia section of the Bund. (p.31)
    Quote:
    The reason Martov opposed the Bund was probably because the Jewish organization would not comply to the Iskra demand for a centralized party. Henry J. Tobias in his analysis of the relationship between the Bund and Lenin has this to say about Martov' s criticism of Bundist separatism:

    Quote:
    “Martov… criticized the Bund for its efforts to squeeze the Jewish workers into narrow nationalist channels when the chief evil afflicting them was a government policy which retarded their rapprochement with the surrounding population. He pointedly contrasted the Bund's behaviour with that of the Jewish workers in the South who worked hand in hand with their Russian colleagues for the general demands of the proletariat.”

    While Martov had declared his opposition to the "nationalistic" trend followed by the Bund at their Congresses, in all fairness to the Bund, it would be a mistake to say that nationalism in 1903 was very strong. (pp. 68-9).

    Swanson says that:

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    The Jewish Bund after 1903 was hardly more than a trade union. (p. 86)

    And of Trotsky at this time:

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    Trotsky was once asked if he regarded himself as a Jew or a Russian. He replied: "Neither, I am a Social Democrat, and nothing else."

    Good answer !

    #132986

    Dave B
    Participant
    #132987

    ZJW
    Participant

    Alan, and ALB — excellent stuff!

    #132988

    ZJW
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    The Zionist Jews look at the fate of most of the Bundists – the death camps – and ascribe to it the failure of the Bundist ideas of fighting alongside their fellow-worker in the working class rather than fleeing. It was not a failure of principles, imho, but an unprecedented and unforeseen consequence of the war.

    Oh, you mean that. I see. Yes, indeed.By the way, and unrelated to the above, it seems to me that these two things are usefully treated separately:1) Showing the nonsensical nature of 'anti-zionism = anti-semitism' through historical citation of Jews who based on various ideologies (religious, bourgeois, socialist … ) have opposed the existence of a Jewish state.  2) Among avowed socialists, the various views on the Jewish Question in relation to the socialist movement: thus, assimilation-integrationism vs Bundisms vs left-zionism (= 'socialism' yes, but in a Jewish state in Palestine, and just for the Jews there).

    #132989

    ZJW
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    ZJW wrote:
    And here, for those interested is a definition from an introduction to the Bauer book (not by Bauer but by some latter-day academic) of what Austro-Marxism's national autonomy meant. (As a reformist/bourgeois utopian notion, not an unattractive idea.)

    I agree that some sort of non-territorial cultural autonomy is a not unttractive idea. It can be imagined that this could be applied in socialism to language groups rather than to "nations" (of course), with people speaking the same language having autonomy when it comes to education and culural (theatre, films, publishing, etc) matters; particpation in the democratic decision-making would not be based on where people lived but on what language they spoke.Although, under capitalism, it would be a reformist measure, it is not that "utopian" in the sense of unrealisable. It is applied in the inner part of Greater Brussels where people choose which language "community" to be in (Dutch or French) and voted for its bodies that administer education and culture. So people in the same street can be voting for different bodies dealing with these matters. It is certainly better than ethnic cleansing and to what applies in other parts of Greater Brussels outside the centre which are also linguistically diverse and where the minority (in some communes even the majority) of French-speakers enjoy considerably less "facilities". That's because there things are based on territory and the French-speakers find themselves on Dutch-speaking territory.

    I had no idea.I did read sometime ago a text whose url is not immediately to hand, advocating for some countries an elctoral system I recall like this:The centrifugal tendencies in 'consociational democracies' (power-sharing set-ups like in NI) can be tweeked 'centripetally' with the adoption of a Multiple Proportional Vote (MPV) system.                What's MPV? The same as Part-List Proportional (PR-List), except that with PR-List, the voter votes once, while with MPV the voter votes as many times as the constitutional setup recognises separate-but-equal ethnic-or-religious groups. Let's say it's Northern Ireland, I identify as a member of the Catholic/Nationalist/Republican community. So I cast one vote for one of the C/N/R parties, but then I also cast a vote for one of the Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist parties. (What happens to Alliance, Greens, and the various Trots I don't know. There must be some provision for cross-community parties.) The first vote is my internal ballot; the second ballot is my external ballot. The point is that they don't 'weigh' the same. How much more is the internal worth than the external? 1 : 0.5? 1: 0:25?  It was not clear to me. Anyway, the aim is: with this voting system, politicians of Group A will have some incentive to attract votes from — or at least not be utterly repugnant to — voters in Group B. (How do I make paragraph breaks?)

    #132990

    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    Just on the question of Jewish assimilation-integrationism, this i think can be linked to class.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_of_German_National_Jews 80 percent of the analyzed activists were self-employed. Physicians and lawyers constituted the dominant professions. They blamed the migrant Jews from the East, the Ostjuden, as the cause of anti-semitismhttps://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=11140

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