As Zionism continues to ravage the soul of the Jewish people, bringing on great intellectual and spiritual decay, there is a great cry to be heard for an end to the madness and a political and spiritual renewal. Many anti-Zionist Jews are gravitating toward the leftist/anti-globalist solution, but that will only fail our people as Communism in general has had a detrimental effect on Jewish identity.
In many respects the current situation among leftist Jews on this question runs parallel to the phenomenon the whole left is facing, that of intellectual weakness and a lack of real relevance as it comes back on the rise. But as we see emerging, as the call to move "beyond left and right" is starting to resonate, the old ideas of Third Positionism are coming back as the end of that ideological staring contest known as the Cold War has brought new life to the old ideas that were the embodiment of Third Postionism. And Jewish Third Positionism is no exception.
Yes, there is such a thing as Jewish Third Positionism. If there can be a Jewish National Socialism, better known as Zionism, then certainly there can be a Jewish Third Positionism. In fact, it could be argued that Jews were the first Third Positionists, that they were the first to reject both Capitalism and Communism, and that they were the first to bring the ideals of the American Revolution to Europe. The origins of Jewish Third Positionism can be found in many places: in true Torah Judaism, in the intellect of post-enlightenment Europe, and in the rejection of Rabbinic elitism. Its story is seldom told, and it is considered to be not but a ghost of history, but as we shall see, it is still with us, its message is much needed in this day and time, and the path is being forged for its glorious re-emergence in the present day.
It is now but a footnote of history that in the years leading up to the Russian Revolution, there was in Russia a most dazzling array of different revolutionary groups reflecting the whole political spectrum. Among Jews, the most popular by far was the Bund, the affinity group of the American Populist Party, which, by the time of the peak of the Bund's influence, had long passed and reasserted itself in the form of the Constitutionalist Socialism of Eugene Victor Debs.
The Bund dominated in Jewish circles for one simple reason: it called for the establishment of a Jewish state, not in Israel, but in the southwestern section of Russia the Jews dominated at that time, the only home they ever knew. Aside from small pockets of Communists and Zionists, all other groups among Jews were virtually nonexistent. This seems incredible today, that there was a time when all that the Jews wanted was self-determination at home and liberty abroad, but so was the whole of the world of our fathers. Aside from being atheist, Communism was a rejection of basic Jewish principles that man can not avoid responsibility by retreating into regulated behavior, and the Jews of the shtetl regarded Zionism as an alien force, perpetrated by the elitist Jews of the west. It was only the horrors of Communism and, of course, Fascism that led Jews into the madness of Zionism. But in the shtetl, the Jews knew why and how they were Jews, and they knew that they should celebrate their rich culture and non-western character, and that to do otherwise would be fatal. As the late Bobover Rebbe is known to have said "They may be destroy our bodies here, but the West will destroy our souls". As the decay of the Czarist regime became evident, the Bund became a part of the Republican coalition that would become Alexander Kerensky's White Army in the Russian Revolution. Kerensky promised that once in power he would create independent homelands for most of Russia's ethnic minorities, including the Jews. When Lenin defeated Kerensky, the dream of a home ruled shtetl was crushed, and soon, so was the shtetl itself. But the legacy of the Bund lives on, it is still celebrated to this day as an important force in the international labor movement, as many of its former partisans went on to join the Jewish vanguard in the American Labor Movement, among these my great-grandfather for whom I am named.
Every Hitler has a Strasser, and the father of Jewish National Socialism, Vladimir Jabotinsky, is no exception. His Strasser was a former Bundist and high ranking White Army official named Pinchas Ruttenberg (1879 - 1942). Born in Romny, in what is now Ukraine, he joined the Bund early on and led their contingent in the infamous march to the winter palace on Bloody Sunday in 1905. He rose quickly in Kerensky's Republican coalition and served as Deputy Governor of Petrograd in Kerensky's provisional government. When the White Army fell, many members of the provisional Government, including Ruttenberg, went to serve in a short lived democratic government in Ukraine. When this failed, Ruttenberg went to Italy, where he met Jabotinsky.
With the death of the shtetl, Ruttenberg was coaxed into supporting the Zionist cause, and he felt that Jabotinsky's program was best suited toward promoting Jewish identity. He accompanied Jabotinsky to New York where they worked toward convening the first World Jewish Congress. The beginning of the break with Jabotinsky over his fascist worldview began when, in New York, Ruttenberg published The National Revival Of The Jewish People, where he advocated a program of economic self-sufficiency and spiritual revival and, eventually, resettlement in Israel. However, he maintained that the Jews should strictly avoid imposing supremacy over Israel, and that this would lead to a theocratic state that would be a mockery of Bund principles. He was no doubt inspired at least in part by Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, which was prospering in New York at the time.
Jabotinsky maintained that Zionism could not be fulfilled without imposing supremacy, a point on which he was probably right. It is very possible that Jabotinsky used the exact same words in denouncing Ruttenberg as Hitler did in denouncing Strasser - "You preach liberalism! There is only one kind of true revolution: not political, social or economic, only racial revolution!". Ruttenberg still would not totally break with Jabotinsky until the early 1930s when Jabotinsky began to purge members of the Histadrut (labor congress). During this period, Ruttenberg did what he is best known for, bringing electricity to Israel, and would become a leader in the failed effort to reach an understanding with Arab leaders before the establishment of the Zionist state. Just before he died, Ruttenberg issued a call for the organization of Jewish youth in the hopes that they would carry on his ideals. But it appeared as though his ideas would die with him.
Tommorow, read PART 2: A Dormant Period http://english.pravda.ru/main/2001/11/29/22292.html