Jews and Political Radicalism

VodkaPundit: “I’ve always joked that Jews who don’t stay Jews end up as either communists or Objectivists.”
How true. I have two compounding explanations for this: (a) For historical and cultural reasons, Jews are more educated and intellectual than the average citizen, so they are more included towards participating in two the dominant philosophical trends of our time: Marxism, and it’s opposite: Objectivism. They are also more intelligent than the public (for social rather than biological reasons I’d say) so they are more likely to seek and adopt the root of the philosophical tendencies they are exposed to. (b) A history of persecution and holding unpopular minority beliefs had led many former Jews towards more radical social solutions, especially utopian ones. Ironically, this led Jewish intellectuals to be some of the strongest supporters of the Weimar-era philosophical and political movements that brought about Fascism. It also created the utopian socialist vision that brought about the State of Israel, for better or worse.

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  1. andrew

    “utopian socialist vision that brought about the State of Israel”

    I think this is very questionable. Zionism may have “utopian socialism” as it’s root, but the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 was an act of political necessity that mobilised all sections of the Jewish community, regardless of political standpoints.

  2. I think what Dave meant is that Israel was founded upon socialist principles — it was intended to be a practicing socialist country. I imagine Dave would agree that (the creation of) Israel was a political necessity, but the socialist dogma driving its founding government was not.

    Even today Israel continues to embrace many socialist policies with respect to welfare and wealth redistribution.

  3. David

    Andrew,

    While the founding of Israel did indeed receive support from Jews of all political flavors, Marxism was by far the dominant political bent of the actual Zionist settlers. Here are three examples: (a) God is not mentioned explicitly in the Israeli constitution because the socialists refused to base their state on a religion. (b) The kibbutz, or agricultural collective, was the primary economic unit envisioned and implemented by the socialist founders, (most of them have since failed and dissolved) and (c) the government took upon itself the task of developing Israeli industry with predictably miserable results, and maintains a large role in the economy to this day.

  4. andrew

    Lots to disagree with here!

    a) “God is not mentioned explicitly in the Israeli constitution because the socialists refused to base their state on a religion” This ignores the role of the ultra-orthodox who do not recognise the state of Israel. Since the earliest days religious Jews have been an extremely significant element in the modern Jewish settlement. The fact that they ignore the secular state does not negate their contribution. I think a recent survey indicates that the ultra orthodox will soon form the majority in the Jerusalem area. They do not recognise the state of Israel but modern Israel is inconceivable without them.

    2) “The kibbutz…most of them have since failed” Failed by what standards? By the standards of free market economics certainly, but the kibbutz movement was living by the principles of control of the means of production, distribution and exchange. By these standards they have succeeded, and they are probably the only large-scale example in the world of agricultural collectivisation that has succeeded (but we would then have to look at the motivation behind that success, which is almost certainly not socialist idealism). Again, modern Israel would be inconceivable without the kibbutz movement (in fact, not only inconceivable, but impossible).

    c) “The government took upon itself the task of developing Israeli industry and maintains a large role in the economy” You are being too harsh here – Israel is a country under almost continuous war mobilisation and this obviously must lead to a greater degree of central planning than would otherwise be desireable. The economy of the United Kingdom in the period 1939-45 was completely directed by the state, but this did not make Winston Churchill or the British Government socialist.

    Another example: Yad Hanadiv, the Rothschild foundation, built and handed over to the State of Israel the buildings for both the Knesset and the Supreme Court. Is Lord Jacob Rothschild (Order of Merit, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, former Director of the Rothschild Bank, resident of Waddesdon Manor etc etc) a marxist/socialist???!!

    I’d better stop here as this is not one of the Forums for debate. Hope you don’t think I am being awkward.

    Andrew

  5. David

    I have no idea what your point in saying all the above is. What I said was: “a utopian socialist vision that brought about the State of Israel, for better or worse.” You’re disagreeing with arguments I did not make.

  6. anti-banker

    “‘Is Lord Jacob Rothschild (Order of Merit, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, former Director of the Rothschild Bank, resident of Waddesdon Manor etc etc) a marxist/socialist???!!”

    The Rothschilds and their employees have a history of supporting Communism. Jacob Schiff sent Trotsky back to Russia with $20 million in gold to help fund the Crime of 1917, for instance.

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