Jews Better Off Than Most People in Tsarist Russia. Zydokomuna Rooted in Jewish Elitism
- Jews And The Left by Arthur Liebman – Published January 1st 1979 by John Wiley & Sons
This work is much more than its title suggests. It includes details about Jewish life in late 19th-century tsarist Russia, and how it impacted the growth of Jewish radicalism.
A DEMOGRAPHIC EXPLOSION OF JEWS THREATENED TSARIST RUSSIA (AND LATER POLAND)
Liebman provides a history of the Jews in the Pale. These were mostly the descendants of Jews who had lived in pre-Partition Poland. (p. 71). The Pale soon became the scene of Jewish-gentile conflicts, not the least caused by growing overcrowding: „At the same time, the Jewish birth rate was rising rapidly. Between 1820 and 1880 the Jewish population of Russia, of whom 95 percent were residents of the Pale, rose from 1,600,000 to 4,000,000. This was an increase of 150 percent, compared with an 87 percent rate of growth for the non-Jewish Russian population. In the cities of the Pale, all these developments helped to produce doubling, tripling, and in some cases quadrupling of the Jewish population within a 50 year period.” (p. 78).
JEWISH ECONOMIC DOMINANCE: JEWS BETTER OFF THAN PEASANTS (THAT IS, MOST PEOPLE)
„The Jews were the craftsmen of this region. By the latter 1890s from two-thirds to three-quarters of all artisans there were Jewish.” (p. 81). Non-Jews lived mostly as peasants (p. 82) and generally had a lower standard of living than the Jews. (p. 84). „After the liberation of the serfs in 1861, many peasants began to develop their own handicraft industries and sell their products, both agricultural and handicrafts. In doing so, they dealt Jewish economic interests a two-fold blow. On the one hand, this economic activity eliminated the need for the Jewish middlemen. On the other hand, it meant that Jewish artisans had to compete against them as well in the factories.” (p. 80). Not surprisingly, after about 1880, the standard of living of Jews rapidly declined. (p. 82).
THE JEWISH REVOLUTIONARY TRADITION: THE „JEWS HAD IT BAD” EXCULPATION
The main factor leading to strong Jewish involvement in the radical left, according to Liebman, was the Jewish revolutionary tradition that had developed out of the oppressive conditions under tsarist Russia. (p. 78). Many Russian Jews left Russia for America, and they and their descendants continued this tradition.
However, Liebman’s explanation is wanting. By his own earlier admission, quoted earlier, Jews were better off than most people. In addition, among the privileged, Jews were overrepresented. Finally, Jews had it bad relative to what? Other peoples of the Pale (e. g., the Poles) suffered even more than the Jews, yet their over-representation in the radical movements of the time was nowhere nearly as extensive, nor as long-lasting, as that of the Jews.
ZYDOKOMUNA ROOTED IN JEWISH ELITISM
What about chutzpah? Liebman comments: „There was also present among Jewish intellectuals and leftists a mixture of hostility and superiority toward Gentiles.” (p. 534). Also: „Centuries of formal and informal discrimination and prejudice against Jews had fostered an intense solidarity and spirit of chauvinism among them.” (p. 596). But what about the many other peoples who had experienced wrongs in the past, yet do not think and act in this way? And if it is all right for Jews to be chauvinistic because they were wronged, then why can’t non-Jews?
THE AMERICAN COMMUNIST PARTY. AMERICAN NEW LEFT LARGELY JEWISH-DRIVEN
Jewish radicals tended to be nonobservant and nonreligious Jews. (p. 7). In the US Communist Party, beginning in the early 20th century, Jews were the single largest ethnic group in it, and were overrepresented in the CP over a long-term period. (for details, see pp. 57-59). In the New Left of the 1950’s and 1960’s, this trend continued. (pp. 67-68). In the mid-1960’s, Jewish membership constituted 30-50% of the SDS. One-third of the SDS Weathermen arrested by the police were Jewish. (p. 67).
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION POLICIES RECOUNT EARLIER NUMERUS CLAUSUS AGAINST JEWS
By the 1970’s, the Jewish-leftist symbiosis began to cool. Liebman sees Jews as turning away from the political left as a result of such things as the Soviet persecution of Jews, the left’s antagonism towards Israel, etc. Another factor was the development of affirmative action, which recounted the old numerus clausus. Liebman writes: „Jewish defense organizations have actively fought against quota systems and other devices designed to increase the enrollments of underrepresented minorities in the professions. Their struggle is informed by a history of anti-Semitic quota systems. But it is also informed by the present-day fact that the more seats in professional schools go to non-Jews, the fewer there will be available to Jewish students.” (p. 608).
SOCIALISM YET AGAIN?
Liebman is candid about his biases. He hopes for, and predicts, a revival of strong Jewish support for socialism. (pp. 612-613).
- Source: GoodReads.com , October 3, 2018
Published with the author’s permission.
Title image: Bund (Yiddish for ‘union’ or ‘league’). Jewish social democratic party, the full name of which was the General Jewish Workers’ Union in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia. Founded in Vilnius in 1897, it adopted a revolutionary Marxist program and represented Jewish workers and leftist intellectuals in the Russian Pale of Settlement. Source: encyclopediaofukraine.com / selected by wg.pco