Ber Borochov Internet Archive
Welcome to the Ber Borochov Internet Archive. Borochov was a "Marxist Zionist" who was born in Russia in 1881 and died there in 1917 shortly after the Russian Revolution. In his early years he was a member of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which later split into the Bolsheviks and the Menshiviks (he was expelled prior to the 1903 split, however). Later, he helped found the Poale Zion Party, a "Labour Zionist" Party which supported the Russian Revolution in 1917 and which, after splitting into right and left sections, evolved into both the Mapai Party (today the Israeli Labor Party) and the more left wing Mapam Party (today Meretz).
Marxism-Zionism seems an odd synthesis but Borochov's theories anticipate later National Liberation Marxist theories. Many Russian members of Left Poale Zion joined the Bolshevik Party after 1917 and played a prominent part in the Communist Party's "Jewish Section" influencing policies favouring "agrarianising" Jews through the construction of agricultural settlements in Crimea and Ukraine and later with the development of a "Jewish Republic" in Biro-Bidzhan. The Jewish Section was dissolved in the 1930s and many ex-Poale Zionists who joined the Communist Party suffered in Stalin's purges.
Below, you'll see a link to Borochov's seminal essay "The National Question and the Class Struggle." The essay aims to be a broad Marxist analysis of the "National Question" without making specific reference to the Jewish Question or to Zionism and thus it still makes an interesting read and a relevant contribution to the debate on nationalism and Marxism by identifying "progressive" vs "reactionary" nationalism, and defining "proletarian nationalism" against bourgeois varieties. It also seeks to explain why sections of the working class sometimes indulge in reactionary nationalism, the importance of solving the national question as part of the class struggle, and analyses the importance of immigration and its relation to the National Question. While, elsewhere, Borochov argues for territorial concentration (specifically Zionism) as the solution to the "Jewish Question" the arguments and analysis posited in "The National Question and the Class Struggle" do not necessarily lead to that conclusion.
Ber Borochov's major works:
(1905) The National Question and the Class Struggle (Part I - VII) - Thesis on Marxism and nationalism -- "conditions of production" explained. (1905) The National Question and the Class Struggle (Part VIII - XIII) - Nationalism and class consciousness. (1906) Our Platform - Written by Borochov, adopted at first Poale Zion convention. National Question, Jewish Question, Zionism, Palestine: why and how? (via the Jewish Virtual Library)
(1916) The Economic Development of the Jewish People - Essay on the political economy of the Jews with Zionist conclusions. (1917) Poale Zion Peace Manifesto - Contribution to international socialist peace congress in Stockholm. Encapsulates Poale Zion platform of the time, includes demands for national self determination and a League of Nations.
Articles and Speeches by Borochov: (1905) On Questions of Zionist Theory - Non-Marxist essay on urgency of Zionism and plight of Jews in the Diaspora. (1905) The Question of Zion and Territory - Polemic against the Uganda Plan, written prior to Borochov's "Marxist Zionism" stage; no Marxist analysis. (1913) The Aims of Yiddish Philology - History and structure of Yiddish. (1913) Hebraismus Militans - Borochov's defence of Yiddish against Hebraists who saw the language as "jargon." (1915) The Socialism of Poale Zionism in the U.S. - Borochov on American Poale Zion and the importance of socialism. (1915) Two Currents in Poale Zionism - Article on tensions between socialism and Zionism. (1916) At the Cradle of Zionist Socialism - Article on origins of Zionist Socialist movement and early splits. (1916) The Jubilee of the Jewish Labor Movement - Article reviewing history of Russian Jewish labor movement and its significance. (1916) Reminiscences - Article reviewing the history of Poale Zion on its tenth anniversary. (1917) Eretz Yisrael in our Program and Tactics - Borochov's last recorded speech. Marks break with "orthodox" Borochovism.
Critiques of Borochov's theories:
(1984) Ber Borochov and Socialist Zionism (I-II) by Mitchell Cohen - Borochov's theories before Borochovism, early life, opposition to Uganda Plan. (1984) Ber Borochov and Socialist Zionism (III-VII) by Mitchell Cohen - Analysis of Marxist Zionism and Borochov's works.
(1937) Theories of Borochov Part I - Abraham Ducker critiques various Marxist approaches to the "Jewish Question" from orthodox Marxist to Bundist, Territorialist and Zionist. (1937) Theories of Borochov Part II - Borochov's role in the Jewish labor movement, evolution of Poale Zion, developments in Borochov's theories, Borochovism and Labor Zionism after Borochov.
(1946) Ernest Mandel's criticisms of Borochovism - Written from a Trotskyist perspective. (1986) Bernard Avishai on Borochov - Historical and economic critique excerpted from The Tragedy of Zionism: Revolution & Democracy in Israel.
(1959) Arthur Hertzberg on Borochov - A short piece in which Hertzberg assesses the historical importance of Borochov's theories and provides a short biographical sketch as an introduction to selections from Borochov printed in Hertzberg's The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader.(1969) Nathan Weinstock on Borochov - A Marxist critique published as "Appendix III - Borochov and the National Question" in Weinstock's book Zionism - False Messiah.
(2010) Mitchell Abidor's "Introduction to Ber Borochov" - from the Marxists Internet Archive.
Biographical sketches of Borochov: Biographical note on Borochov by Levic Jessel - From a Left Poale Zion perspective.Borochov biography - Written from a Right Poale Zion perspective.
Jewish Virtual Library biography
YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe biography.
Labor Zionist links:
Ameinu - successor to the Labor Zionist Alliance (US) and descendant of the US wing of Poale Zion founded in 1905.
Meretz Party (Hebrew) - successor of Mapam and the Poale Zion Left.
Labor Party (Hebrew) - successor of Mapai and the Poale Zion Right.
Hashomer Hatzair North America - Socialist Zionist youth movement running activities and summer camps in Canada and the US.
Habonim Dror North America - Labor Zionist youth movement, runs summer camps, successor of Young Poale Zion, aligned with Labor Party
Ber Borochov on Wikisource
Ber Borochov in the Marxist Internet Archive
Ber Borochov (with hat), the future leader of Poale Zion, with friends in his hometown Poltava, Ukraine, in 1903. Standing on the left is Yitzhak Ben Zvi, who became the second president of Israel.