Page:A Jewish State 1917.djvu/17

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A JEWISH STATE

INTRODUCTION

It is astonishing how little insight many of the men who move in the midst of active life possess of the science of economics. Hence it is that even Jews faithfully repeat the cry of the Anti-Semites: "We depend for sustenance on the nations whose guests we are, and if we had not hosts to support us we should die of starvation." This is a point that shows how greatly unjust accusations may weaken our self-knowledge. But what are the true grounds for this statement concerning the nations which take us in? Where it is not based on limited physiocratic views it is founded on the childish error that commodities pass from hand to hand in continuous rotation. We need not wake from long slumber, like Rip van Winkle, to realize that the world is considerably altered by the production of new commodities. The technical progress made during this wonderful era enables even a man of most limited intelligence to note with his short-sighted eyes the appearance of innumerable new commodities. The spirit of enterprise has created them.

Labor without enterprise is the stationary labor of ancient days; and typical of it is the work of the husbandman, who stands now just where his progenitors stood a thousand years ago. All our material welfare has been brought about by men of enterprise. I feel almost ashamed of writing down so trite a remark. Even if we were a nation of promoters—such as absurdly exaggerated accounts make us out to be—we should not require another nation to live on. We do not depend only on the circulation of old commodities, because we produce new ones.

We possess slaves of extraordinary strength for work, whose appearance in the world has been fatal to the production of hand-made goods: these slaves are the machines. It is true that workmen are required to set machinery in motion; but for this we have men in plenty, in superabundance. Only those who are ignorant of the condition of Jews in many countries of Eastern Europe would venture to assert that Jews are either unfit or unwilling to perform manual labor.

But I do not wish to take up the cudgels for the Jews in this pamphlet. It would be useless. Everything rational and everything sentimental that can possibly be said in their defence, has been said already. New arguments in favor of a certain condition of mind or of feeling answer no purpose. If one's hearers are incapable of comprehending them, one is a preacher in a desert. And if one's hearers are broad and high-minded enough to have grasped them already, then the whole sermon is superfluous. I believe in the ascent of man to higher and yet higher grades of civilization; but I consider this ascent to be desperately slow. Were we to wait till average humanity had become as charitably inclined as was Lessing when he wrote "Nathan the Wise," we should wait beyond our day, beyond the days of our children, of