A Jewish State (1917 translation)/Local Groups
|←The Jewish Question||A Jewish State by , translated by Sylvie d'Avigdor and Jacob De Haas
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Previous chapters explained only how the emigration scheme might be carried out without creating any economic disturbance. But so great a movement cannot take place without inevitably rousing many deep and powerful feelings. Old customs, old memories attach us to our homes. We have cradles, we have graves, and we alone know how Jewish hearts cling to the graves. Our cradles we shall carry with us—they hold our future, rosy and smiling. Our beloved graves we must, alas! abandon—and I think this abandonment will cost us covetous people more than any other sacrifice. But it must be so.
Economic distress, political pressure, and social obloquy have already driven us from our homes and from our graves. We Jews are even now perpetually shifting from place to place, a strong current actually carrying us westward over the sea to the United States, where our presence is not desired. And where will our presence be desired, so long as we are a homeless nation?
But we shall give a home to our people. And we shall give it, not by dragging them ruthlessly out of their sustaining soil, but rather by transplanting them carefully to a better ground. Though we are creating new political and economic relations, we shall preserve as sacred all that is dear to our people's hearts.
Here a few suggestions must suffice, as this part of my scheme will most probably be condemned as visionary. Yet even this is possible and real, though it now appears to be something vague and aimless. Organization will make of it something rational.
EMIGRATION IN GROUPS.
Our people may emigrate in groups of families and friends. But no man will be forced to join the particular group belonging to his former place of residence. Each will be able to journey in his chosen fashion as soon as he has settled his affairs. Seeing that each man will pay his own expenses by rail and boat, he will naturally travel by whatever class suits him best. Possibly there will even be no subdivision of classes on board train and boat, so as to avoid making the poor, who form the great majority of passengers, feel their position too keenly during their long journey. Though we are not exactly organizing a pleasure trip, it is as well to keep them in good humor on the way.
None will travel in penury; on the other hand all who desire to travel in luxurious ease will be able to follow their bent. Even under favorable circumstances, the movement may not touch certain classes of Jews for several years to come; the intervening period can therefore be employed in selecting the best modes of organizing the journeys. Those who are well off can travel in parties if they wish, taking their personal friends and connections with them. Jews, with the exception of the richest, have, after all, very little intercourse with Christians. In some countries their acquaintance with them is confined to a few spungers, borrowers, and dependents; of a better class of Christian they know nothing. The Ghetto subsists still, though its walls are broken down.
The middle classes will therefore make elaborate and careful preparations for departure. A group of travelers will be formed in each locality, large towns being divided into districts, with a group in each district, who will communicate by means of representatives elected for the purpose. This division into districts need not be strictly adhered to; it is merely intended to alleviate the discomfort and home-sickness of the poor during their journey outwards. If they so choose, they may either travel alone or attached to any local group they prefer. The conditions of travel—regulated according to classes—will apply to all alike. Any sufficiently numerous traveling party can charter a special train and special boat from the Company.
The Company's house agency will provide quarters for the poorest on their arrival. Later on, when more prosperous emigrants follow, their obvious need for lodgings on first landing will have been supplied by hotels built by private enterprise. Some of these more prosperous colonists will, indeed, have built their houses before becoming permanent settlers, so that they will merely move from an old home into a new one.
It would be an affront to our intelligence to point out everything that we might do. Every man who attaches himself to the National Idea will know how to spread it, and how to make it actual within his sphere of influence. We shall first of all ask for the cooperation of our ministers.
Every group will have its minister, traveling with his congregation. Local groups will afterwards form voluntarily about their minister, and each locality will have its spiritual guide. Our ministers, on whom we especially call, will devote their energies to the service of our idea, and will inspire their congregations by preaching it from the pulpit. They will not need to address special meetings for the purpose; an appeal such as this may be uttered in the synagogue. And thus it must be done. For we feel our historic affinity only through the faith of our fathers; the very language of different nations has been impressed on us so deeply that it seems impossible to obliterate it.
The ministers will receive communications regularly from both Society and Company, and will announce and explain these to their congregations. Israel will pray for us and for itself.
RESPONSIBLE MEN OF THE LOCAL GROUPS.
The local groups will appoint small committees of responsible men under the minister's presidency, for discussion and settlement of local affairs.
Philanthropic institutions will be transferred by their local groups; each institution remaining "over there" the property of the same set of people for whom it was originally founded. I think the old buildings should not be sold, but rather devoted to the assistance of indigent Christians in the forsaken towns. The local group will receive compensation by obtaining free building sites and every facility for reconstruction in the new country.
This transfer of philanthropic institutions will give another of those opportunities which occur at different points of my scheme, for making an experiment in the service of humanity. Our present unsystematic private philanthropy does little good in proportion to the great expenditure it involves. But these institutions can and must form part of a system by which they will eventually supplement one another. In a new society these organizations can be evolved out of our modern consciousness, and may be based on all previous socio-political experiments. This matter is of great importance to us, on account of our large number of paupers. The weaker characters among us, discouraged by external pressure, spoilt by the soft-hearted charity of our rich men, easily sink, till they take to begging.
The Society, supported by the local groups, will give the greatest attention to popular education with regard to this particular. It will create a fruitful soil for many powers which now wither uselessly away. Whoever shows a genuine desire to work will be suitably employed. Beggars will not be endured. Whoever refused to do anything as a free man will be sent to the workhouse.
On the other hand, we shall not despatch the old to an infirmary. An infirmary is one of the crudest charities which our stupid good-nature ever invented. There our old people die out of pure shame and mortification. There they are already buried. But we will leave to those even who stand on the lowest grade of intelligence the consoling illusion of their utility in the world. We will provide easy tasks for those who are incapable of physical labor; for we must allow for diminished vitality in the poor of an already enfeebled generation. But future generations shall be dealt with otherwise; they shall be brought up in liberty for a life of liberty.
We will seek to bestow the moral salvation of work on men of every age and of every class; and thus our people will find their strength again in the land of the seven-hours day.
PLANS OF THE TOWNS.
The local groups will delegate their representatives to select sites for towns. In the distribution of land, every precaution will be taken to effect a careful transfer with due consideration for acquired rights.
The local groups will have plans of the towns, so that our people may know beforehand where they are to go, in which towns and in which houses they are to live. Comprehensible drafts of the building plans previously referred to will be distributed among the local groups.
The principle of our administration will be strict centralization, of our local groups complete autonomy. In this way the transfer will be accomplished with the minimum of pain.
I do not imagine all this to be easier than it actually is; on the other hand, people must not imagine it to be more difficult than it is in reality.
THE DEPARTURE OF THE MIDDLE CLASSES.
The middle classes will involuntarily be drawn into the outgoing current, for their sons will be the Company's officials and employés "over there." Lawyers, doctors, scientists of every description, young traders—in fact, all Jews who are in search of opportunities, who now escape from oppression in their native country to earn a living in foreign lands—will assemble on a soil so full of fair promise. The daughters of the middle classes will have married these ambitious men. One of them will send for his wife to come out to him, another for his parents, brothers and sisters. Members of a new civilization marry young. This can but promote general morality and ensure sturdiness in the scions of our race; and thus we shall have no delicate offspring of late marriages, children of fathers who spent their strength in the struggle for life.
Every middle-class emigrant will draw more of his kind after him.
The bravest will naturally get the best out of the new world.
But here we seem undoubtedly to have touched on the crucial difficulty of my plan.
Even if we succeeded in opening a serious general discussion on the Jewish Question—
Even if this debate led us to a positive conclusion that the Jewish State were necessary to the world—
Even if the Powers assisted us in acquiring the sovereignty over a strip of territory—
How are we to transport masses of Jews without undue compulsion from their present homes to this new country?
Their emigration is surely voluntary?
THE PHENOMENON OF MULTITUDES.
Great exertions will not be necessary to spur on the movement. Anti-Semites provide the requisite impetus. They need only do what they did before, and then they will create a love of emigration where it did not previously exist, and strengthen it where it existed before. Jews who now remain in Anti-Semitic countries do so chiefly because, even those among them who are most ignorant of history, know that numerous changes of residence in bygone centuries never brought them any permanent good. Any land which welcomed the Jews today and offered them even fewer advantages than the future Jewish State would guarantee them, would immediately attract a great influx of our people. The poorest, who have nothing to lose, would drag themselves there. But I maintain, and every man may ask himself whether I am not right, that the pressure weighing on us rouses a desire to emigrate even among prosperous strata of society. Now our poorest strata alone would suffice to found a State; for these make the most vigorous conquerors, because a little despair is indispensable to the formation of a great undertaking.
But when our desperadoes increase the value of the land by their presence and by the labor they expend on it, they make it at the same time increasingly attractive as a place of settlement to people who are better off.
Higher and yet higher strata will feel tempted to go over. The expedition of the first and poorest settlers will be conducted by conjoint Company and Society, and will probably be additionally supported by existing emigration and Zionist societies.
How may a number of people be concentrated on a particular spot without being given express orders to go there? There are certain Jews, benefactors on a large scale, who try to alleviate the sufferings of their co-religionists by Zionist experiments. To them this problem also presented itself, and they thought to solve it by giving the emigrants money or means of employment. Thus the philanthropists said: "We pay these people to go there."
Such an experiment is utterly at fault, and all the money in the world will not achieve its purpose.
On the other hand, the Company will say: "We shall not pay them, we shall let them pay us. We shall merely offer them some inducement to go."
A fanciful illustration will make my meaning more explicit: One of these philanthropists (whom we will call "The Baron") and myself both wish to get a crowd of people on to the plain of Longchamps, near Paris, on a hot Sunday afternoon, The Baron, by promising them 10 francs each, will, for 200,000 francs, bring out 20,000 perspiring and miserable people, who will curse him for having given them so much annoyance. Whereas I will offer these 200,000 francs as a prize for the swiftest race-horse—and then I shall have to put up barriers to keep the people off Longchamps. They will pay to go in: 1 franc, 5 francs, 20 francs.
The consequence will be that I shall get half a million of people out there; the President of the Republic will drive à la Daumont; and the crowds will enjoy and amuse themselves. Most of them will think it an agreeable walk in the open air, spite of heat and dust; and I shall have made by my 200,000 francs about a million in entrance-money and taxes on gaming. I shall get the same people out there whenever I like; but the Baron will not—not on any account.
I will give a more serious illustration of the phenomenon of multitudes where they are earning a livelihood. Let any man attempt to cry through the streets of a town: "Whoever is willing to stand all day long through a winter's terrible cold. through a summer's tormenting heat, in an iron hall exposed on all sides, there to address every passerby, and to offer him fancy wares, or fish, or fruit, will receive 2 florins, or 4 francs, or something similar."
How many people would go to the hall? How many days would they hold out when hunger drove them there? And if they held out, what energy would they display in trying to persuade passers-by to buy fish, fruit, and fancy wares?
We shall set about it in a different way. In places where trade is active, and these places we shall the more easily discover, since we ourselves form channels for trade to various localities; in these places we shall build large halls, and call them markets. These halls might be worse built and more unwholesome than those above mentioned, and yet people would stream towards them. But we shall use our best efforts, and we shall build them better, and make them more beautiful than the first. And the people, to whom we had promised nothing—because we cannot promise anything without deceiving them—these brave, keen business men will gaily create most active commercial intercourse. They will harangue the buyers unweariedly; they will stand on their feet, and scarcely think of fatigue. They will hurry off day after day, so as to be first on the spot; they will make agreements, promises, anything to continue bread-winning undisturbed. And if they find on Sabbath night that all their hard work has produced only 1 florin 50 kreuzer, or 3 francs, or something similar, they will yet look forward hopefully to the next day, which may, perhaps, bring them better luck.
We have given them hope.
Would any one ask whence the demand comes which creates the market? Is it really necessary to tell them again?
I pointed out before that the labor-test increased our gain fifteenfold. One million produced fifteen millions; and one thousand millions, fifteen thousand millions.
This may be the case on a small scale; is it so on a large one? Capital surely yields a return diminishing in inverse ratio to its own growth? Inactive capital yields this diminishing return, but active capital brings in a marvellously increasing return. Herein lies the social question.
Am I stating a fact? I call on the richest Jews as witnesses of my veracity. Why do these carry on so many different industries? Why do they send men to work underground and to raise coal amid terrible dangers for miserable pay? I cannot imagine this to be pleasant, even for the owners of the mines. For I do not believe that capitalists are heartless, and I do not take up the attitude of believing it. My desire is not to accentuate, but to smooth differences.
Is it necessary to illustrate the phenomenon of multitudes, and their concentration on a particular spot, by references to pious pilgrimages?
I do not want to hurt any one's religious sensibility by words which might be wrongly interpreted.
I shall merely refer quite briefly to the Mahommedan pilgrimages to Mecca, the Catholic pilgrimages to Lourdes and to many other spots whence men return comforted by their faith, and to the holy Coat at Trier. Thus we shall also create a centre for the deep religious needs of our people. Our ministers will understand us first, and will be with us in this.
We shall let every man find salvation "over there" in his own particular way. Above and before all we shall make room for the immortal band of our Freethinkers, who are continually making new conquests for humanity.
No more force will be exercised on any one than is necessary for the preservation of the State and the upholding of its statutes; and the requisite force will not be arbitrarily defined by one or more shifting authorities; it will be fixed by iron laws.
Now if the illustrations I gave make people draw the inference that a multitude can be only temporarily attracted to centres of faith, of business, or of amusement, the reply to their objection is simple. Whereas one of these objects by itself would certainly only allure the masses, all these centres of attraction combined would be fully qualified permanently to hold and satisfy them. For all these centres together form a single, great, long-sought object, which our people has always longed to attain, for which it has kept itself alive, for which it has been kept alive by external pressure—a free home! When the movement commences, we shall draw some men after us and let others follow; others again will be swept into the current, and the last will be thrust after us.
These last hesitating colonists will be the worst off, both here and there.
But the first, who go over with faith, enthusiasm, and courage, will have the best of the bargain.
OUR INTRINSIC QUALITIES.
There are more mistaken notions abroad concerning Jews than concerning any other people. And we ourselves have become so depressed and discouraged by our historic sufferings that, parrot-like, we repeat and believe these mistakes. Such a one is the assertion that our love of business is extreme. Now it is well known that wherever we are permitted to take part in the uprising of classes, we give up our business as soon as possible. The great majority of Jewish business men give their sons a superior education. Hence, indeed, the so-called "Judaising" of good professions. But even in economically feebler grades of society, our love of trade is not so predominant as is generally supposed. In the Eastern countries of Europe there are great numbers of Jews who are not traders, and who are not afraid of hard work either. The Society of Jews will be in a position to prepare scientifically accurate statistics of our human forces. The new duties and prospects which the new country offers to our people will satisfy our present handicraftsmen, and will transform many present small traders into manual workers.
A pedlar who travels about the country with a heavy pack on his back is not so contented as his persecutors imagine. The seven-hours day will convert all of his kind into workmen. They are brave, misunderstood people, who now suffer perhaps more severely than any others. The Society of Jews will moreover busy itself from the outset with their training as artisans. Their love of gain will be encouraged in wholesome fashion. Jews are of saving and adaptable disposition, and are possessed of strong family feeling. Such people are qualified for any means of earning a living, and it will therefore suffice to make small trading unremunerative, to cause even present pedlars to give it up altogether. This could be brought about, for example, by encouraging large trading-houses which provide all necessaries of life. These general trading-houses are already crushing small trading in capital towns. In the land of new civilization they will absolutely prevent its existence. The establishment of these trading-houses is further advantageous, because it makes the country immediately habitable for people who require more refined necessaries of life.
Is a reference to the little habits and comforts of the ordinary man, in character with the serious nature of this pamphlet?
I think it is in character, and, moreover, very important. For these little habits are the thousand and one fine delicate threads which together go to make up an unbreakable rope.
Here certain limited notions must be set aside. Whoever has seen anything of the world knows that just these little daily customs can easily be transplanted everywhere. The technical contrivances of our day, which this scheme intends to employ in the service of humanity, have heretofore been principally used for our little habits. There are English hotels in Egypt and on the mountain-crests of Switzerland, Vienna cafés in South Africa, French theatres in Russia, German operas in America, and best Bavarian beer in Paris.
When we journey out of Egypt again, we shall not leave the fleshpots behind.
Every man will find his customs again in the local groups, but they will be better, more beautiful, and more agreeable than before.