Borochov set out to solve all the doubts raised by the general socialist movement and by all these different groupings within the Jewish labor movement. In logic Borochov was a thorough-going materialist and Marxist; emotionally he was a Zionist. His theory is a result of both these aspects. He had first to contend with the assimilationist Marxists, hence his general theory of nationalism. He had to prove that Palestine could be the only territory because he was a lover of this land, hence his theory of the stychic process. At the same time he had to reconcile work in the Galut with the task of building the territorial center, hence his theory of the role of the Jewish proletariat and the changes which would take place while the process of immigration to Palestine would go on. His theory had to be materialistic to the core; otherwise he could not gain the following of the Jewish youthful intelligentsia, which at that time, together with the Russian intellectuals, was turning away from the socialist Narodnik teachings to dialectical materialism as a result of the propaganda of Plekhanov and his associates.
Borochov saw clearly the errors of his contemporaries in following blindly the Utopian notions of cosmopolitanism. Marx failed to formulate clearly a "Marxian" approach to social problems which spring from national differences. Thus socialism in its early stages was cosmopolitan in its outlook, and continually negated or minimized the importance of nationalism in the class struggle. This point of view was largely due to the fact that most of the socialist theoreticians were or considered themselves to be members of majority national groups within a state. Minorities are naturally more concerned with the problem of national survival than majorities because they suffer from national oppression in addition to the usual economic oppression.
Borochovs doctrine of nationalism can be called the earliest successful effort in the direction of evolving a theory of nationalism on the basis of dialectical materialism. The basis for the materialistic analysis of Borochov is a new term which he introduced, namely, "conditions of production" which is an extension of Marxs and Engels concept of "relations of production." "Conditions of production" include the sum total of conditions under which production takes place: the geographical, anthropological, and the historical, which function both within the respective group and in connection with its relation to other groups.
This concept furnishes the basis for Borochovs approach to the problem of nationalism. According to Marx, social conflicts result from the development of the forces of production and their clash with the existing relations of production. Borochov interprets, in an analogous manner, national conflicts as a result of the clash between the developing forces of production of a nation and the conditions of production under which it lives. To Borochov, a people is "a society which grew out of the very same conditions of production." A nation to him is a people in a higher stage of development which, in addition to springing from the same conditions of production, is also "united by the consciousness of its individual members and a kinship arising out of a common historic past, the roots of which arise from the common conditions of production." It is a product of bourgeois society. The period of feudalism knew only peoples, but not nationalities, which began to develop with the rise of capitalism. The bourgeoisie with the aid of other classes was able to liberate the entire population from its former masters. The abolition of feudalism was thus a progressive revolutionary step.
The nationalism of the ruling classes is diversified. For the class of the great landowners, the territory is valuable as their chief source of income, which they derive from rent. Their nationalism is land nationalism. They are not concerned with who controls the market for the products as long as they continue to derive their income from it. In backward states their class is mostly identified with the regime. In more developed states where the bourgeoisie has defeated them, they try to make peace with their former foes through the protective coloring of nationalism and reaction.
The great bourgeoisie knows no traditions. It is not concerned with language and customs which are merely within the needs of the domestic market. The territory presents to this class an operating basis for the purpose of seizing the world market.
For the middle class and petty bourgeoisie the territory possesses significance as a market for consumers goods. Selling and purchasing of these goods require the use of the same language, hence the concern of this class for the extent of the area of its language and culture. It is the weakest class and is subject to many internal conflicts. In search of support for its continuously tottering position, this group comes to the aid of the reactionary domestic and foreign policies of the landlords and great bourgeoisie.
For the proletariat, the territory has a twofold significance. It is important both as a work-place and as a strategic place for the conduct of the class struggle. The proletariat, too, is not a unified solid bloc. It is split because of the varying conditions of production. Competition exists between the skilled and unskilled workers. The territory becomes a base for the struggle only after its occupation by the workers as a work-place has become secure. This is the reason for the lack of class consciousness and the presence of nationalistic sentiments among the "proletarianizing" masses in search of work as well as among the natives who are in the defense of their jobs against the influx of foreign workers. The development of the territory as a base for struggle lessens both the individualistic and the nationalistic trends within the proletariat and increases class solidarity.
Among nations which live a normal economic life, nationalism is reactionary and dangerous because it obscures the class relationship. The situation is different among nations which live under abnormal economic conditions because of either national subjugation or the lack of their own territories. This uncertain strategic base of the proletariat of such a nation causes its class consciousness to be closely identified with its national consciousness. Its class struggle assumes both objectively and subjectively national characteristics and trends. Its national consciousness is derived only from the desire of the proletariat to overcome the abnormalities of its strategic base. The nationalism of the organized revolutionary proletariat of a subject or landless nation has as its purpose the struggle for a normal work-place and a strategic base. It cannot achieve its aims without striving for the normalization of the conditions of production for the entire nation. Its nationalism is thus the only real nationalism since it does not strive to obscure the class relationship nor does it call for class collaboration.
The application of Borochovs theory of landless nations to the Jews follows the same line of reasoning. The Jewish nation has no territory of its own. It falls within the category of a landless nation which has entered a foreign system of economy. It has to adjust itself economically to the demands of the majority nations among which it lives. The first factor in this process of adjustment is the inevitable assimilation. Assimilation is counter-balanced by and is in constant clash with the second factor, a negative onenamely, that of isolation. As long as the landless nation is merely exploited by its host nations, its economic position is fairly definite and strong. But as soon as exploitation is replaced by the inevitable appearance of competition, the minority is bound to lose steadily its economic positions to the majority. National competition forces it to engage in the branches of economy which are the least important and the weakest.
To the Jewish capitalists, Jewish national life does not permit any imperialistic aspirations. This class has managed to adjust itself remarkably well to its environment. If not for the pressure of the hordes of "poor East European Jewry" which constantly bring pogroms and migrations to the attention of their wealthy relatives, this class would not have felt any sense of isolation. Only the fear of the spread of anti-Semitism ties it to the other classes of the Jewish people. Its only expression of this bond takes a philanthropic form.
The middle bourgeoisie has a much closer connection with the masses. First, there are its national interests in the internal market. It has to compete with the non-Jewish bourgeoisie. This introduces assimilation and at the same time sharpens its national consciousness. Since its problem is that of finding a territory upon which to base the struggle for its market, it shows tendencies of dreaming of Jewish independence and a Jewish state. Its members feel most keenly the legal restrictions and the misery of the masses; hence they are more nationally minded. Nevertheless their main tie to the Galut is their immediate economic interests. Their national energy can be partly utilized but cannot form the basis of any serious endeavor for the radical reconstruction of Jewish life.
The Jewish proletariat, too, suffers from the abnormality of the economic development of the Jewish people and its resulted occupational distribution. It is concentrated in intellectual professions and in secondary industries, remote from nature and natural resources. Thus, the Jewish fields of work are of little value both in the economic structure of the country and as a basis for the class struggle of the Jewish workers. The processes of capitalism tend to throw a steadily increasing number of declassed Jewish petty bourgeois into the ranks of the unemployed reserves at a greater proportion than that of the non-Jewish petty bourgeoisie. This influx makes it harder for the Jewish worker to find employment and to conduct a normal class struggle. The Jewish worker is confined largely to small shops and plants and thus is unable to organize properly to fight his exploiters. He cannot participate properly in the process of bringing about the social revolution. Since the basic industries are closed to him, "he is incapable of paralyzing the economic organism in a single strike His exploiter is the small capitalist whose role in production is negligible. When the Jewish worker does go on strike against the industry which exploits him, he does not appreciably disturb the equilibrium of the country. He is not even strong enough to obtain his just demands without the support of the other more fortunate workers of the surrounding nationalities. He cannot obtain even the most minor concession when his national needs do not coincide with those of workers of another nationality." This peculiar, weak position strengthens in turn his sense of proletarian solidarity. Since these difficulties of the Jewish proletariat are based on national factors, he must be, unlike the proletariat of other nations, interested in nationalism.
These shortcomings of the Jewish people and of the Jewish proletariat will be eliminated by the settlement of the Jews in their own land. There the worker will develop under normal conditions and find his strategic base from which to conduct the class struggle and achieve the social revolution.
As opposed to the free choice of territory by the other Socialist Territorialist theoreticians, Borochov propounded his own interpretation of Palestine as the land of future Jewish mass immigration and settlement. Just as the realization of socialism will take place through a stychic process of the concentration of capital without dependence on any conscious factors whatsoever, so too will the future concentration of the Jewish emigrants into a definite territory begin stychically and independently of anyones will. This does not mean an immediate return of the Jews to Palestine. The Jewish masses, driven out because of their abnormal situation from the lands in which they reside, must emigrate to any country which will accept them. But even in the more thinly settled lands, they are forced to engage in their former occupations because of the national oppression. The basic industries continue to be closed to them. At the same time the need for new lands of immigration increases because of progressively sharper competition resulting from the steady expulsion of the Jews from their occupations. The absorptive capacity of the new lands of immigration will decrease gradually, so that eventually all of them will bar their gates to the Jewish wanderer. Ultimately, there will remain but one avenue for the masses in their search for a haven. They will have to direct their wanderings to a land where they will be able to enter all branches of production without any great difficulties. This land will have to be able to give the petty Jewish capitalist an opportunity to invest his capital in industry and agriculture; it will have to be able to give the Jewish worker the opportunity to engage in basic industries or to transfer from industry to agriculture without undue difficulty. This land must be semi-agricultural, thinly populated, fitted from the immigration of the petty bourgeois Jew and his small investment, where neither the Jewish capitalist nor the worker will meet with national competition in their efforts to enter the basic industries. This land is, of course, Palestine. Economic necessity will drive the Jews there.
Borochov, like most of his contemporaries in Europe, was not well acquainted with the Arab problem. He considered Palestine as an "international hotel" the same as "Switzerland, Yemen, and Tibet." Countries of this type have their peculiar economic structure, which is characterized by small native or petty bourgeoisie production and by the fact that a large proportion of the population derives its livelihood from the pilgrim and tourist trade. A land of this type has also a peculiar cultural structure. The population is highly cultured but has no culture of its own. The natives depend on "foreign guests" economically, and they adjust themselves to the incomers culturally. Therefore, they are acquainted with a number of languages, and they lack the feeling of national isolation and are more free from chauvinism. On the basis of this interpretation the Arabs of Palestine are not of an economically or culturally independent type. They are not a nation and will not become one for a long time. They are open to cultural assimilation because they cannot offer economic competition on a national basis. They will thus adopt the economic cultural characteristics of the incoming Jews. "The development of the forces of production will be taken over by the Jewish immigrants and the present population will eventually become economically and culturally assimilated with the Jews."
The part which the Jewish proletariat is to play in the achievement of the normalization of Jewish life through the immigration of the masses into Palestine is a very important one. It is parallel to the function of the proletariat in hastening the decline of capitalism through the class struggle and the sharpening of class relations. The Jewish proletariat is bound to participate in this process of settlement in Palestine. The means for its participation is the class struggle, the only weapon of the proletariat. Mass migrations require order and management. The Jewish masses which are so anxious to migrate can certainly not be entrusted with this task. The sorely beset petty bourgeoisie is too individualistic and too disorganized to do it. The upper and middle bourgeoisie cannot do it because they are not sufficiently interested in a basic and thorough solution of the Jewish problem. Furthermore their interests are of a reactionary class position. The revolutionary proletariat is thus bound to undertake the task of introducing order into the process of Jewish migration into Palestine as well as in the process of converting the semi-agricultural country into a place fit for increasing immigration of the masses. This process is a double one. The Jewish proletariat, through its participation in the general class struggle in the Galut, will force the individual governments of the countries in which the Jewish masses reside to adopt a more democratic policy and will strengthen the tendencies in support of the Jewish plans for Palestine (as for instance, by insisting on unlimited immigration). The interest is bound to grow in time. The gradual impoverishment of the Jewish petty bourgeoisie, the poverty and the increasing radicalization of the masses will see to that. Immigration to Palestine will begin with the petty bourgeoisie. Later, international capital too will begin to invade the country, a desirable thing from Borochovs point of view. While the bourgeoisie will assume the task of upbuilding, the proletariat will undertake the task of liberation from capitalism. During the first few years of colonization, there will be temporarily some collaboration between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in order to achieve the most elementary aims of the establishment of normal economic relations within a capitalistic society. The partnership will be of the type of the joint action between the enlightened bourgeoisie and the revolutionary proletariat in their effort to overthrow the Czarist despotism in Russia. The class struggle can be mitigated or postponed but cannot be finally averted.
The grave problem of the final achievement of territorial autonomy or perhaps independence of Palestine from the Turkish regime will be solved as a result of this organic process. The Turkish government will most decidedly interfere on behalf of the bourgeoisie in its struggle against the demands of the proletariat. This in turn will bring about the intervention of the powers of Europe which will demand the liberation of Palestine from the despotism of Turkey. As the territorial autonomy will be established, the proletariat will have achieved its only aim, since it has no other national aims. The class struggle will continue until the liberation of the proletariat will be completely achieved.
What of the Jews outside Palestine? Borochov never admitted the possibility of the settlement in Palestine of the majority of the Jewish people. According to him, the majority of Jews will continue to reside throughout the world. The establishment of the territorial autonomy of the Jewish center of Palestine will place the Jews in the Galut in a position of a national minority in the same nature as all other national minorities. This of course will gradually remedy the evils of their exceptional economic distribution due to their present condition as a national minority without a center. Eventually all national minorities in general, and the Jewish one in particular, will disappear completely. National autonomy will make this process easier, since it will lessen the clashes between the majority and the minority. With the elimination of national oppression under socialism, minorities and nations which are backward economically or culturally are bound to assimilate completely and painlessly among their more developed neighbors. In the same way Borochov foretold the solution of the Arab problem in Palestinethrough assimilation with the higher culture of the Jews. His ideas concerning the eventual assimilation were never adopted by the movement. Borochov himself revised them later.
It is easy to criticize the early system of Borochov in the light of more recent changes in Marxian thought and Jewish life. His mechanistic approach to social problems as characterized by his emphasis on purely stychic trends certainly cannot be accepted. The tendency now among the orthodox Borochovists and the less articulate neo-Borochovists is to attempt to prove that Borochov included an element of will in his stychic process. His own statement as to his materialistic approach would seem to belie it. At best this attempt is similar to present efforts to read new contents into the teachings of Marx on the basis of stray quotations instead of admitting that perhaps even a genius cannot foresee all.
A corollary to this stychic process is the disregard for all efforts and factors which are not purely materialistic. Early Borochovism does not concern itself with any moral or spiritual values; it has no concern whatsoever with the individual. It disregards the efforts of collectives and cooperatives which are based on social-spiritual drives rather than on purely economic factors. It tends to look on the proletariat as the exclusive possessor of the mission of bringing about socialism. For this reason its present adherents fail to appreciate, for instance, the return to the Hebrew language in Palestine. They try to interpret it as a deliberate conspiracy against the Yiddish speaking masses, rather than to see it as a spiritual revolt against Galut life and as a return to historical, traditional values.
This particular attention paid to the proletariat is especially unrealistic when applied to Jewish life. Furthermore, Borochovism implies a sacred worship of Borochovs early writings with his concomitant dogmatism, narrow-minded sectarianism, continual hair-splitting, and "holier than thou" attitude of a small group of chosen people who claim to maintain the gospel in its pristine purity. To American Jewry it offers nothing. A theory evolved under conditions of a multi-nationality state, a theory which does not take cognizance of religious and traditional elements in Jewish life and would substitute for it a mere Yiddish speaking community, does not hold water even from its own materialistic approach. The upbuilding of Palestine, too, failed to follow the exact lines of the stychic process as indicated by Borochov in his early teachings. The collective will of the Jewish people in its historical settings and the individual determination of a small group of pioneers also played a great part in the task. The twofold task of the "creating" bourgeoisie and the "liberating" proletariat failed to function at least in the first stages of the construction of the Jewish homeland in Palestine.
In spite of these shortcomings, Borochov managed to construct a system of ideas which appealed strongly to his own contemporaries and many of which remain unchallenged today. The same standards of criticism that can be applied to Marxism apply to the basis of his economic interpretation. Its acceptance depends on the acceptance of dialectical materialism. Its further development also depends on the liberation of socialist thought from dogmatism and the disease of blind hero and quotation worship. Borochovs greatest contribution to socialist thought, namely his theory of the organic unity between socialism and proletarian nationalism, remains unacknowledged, although it is being carried out to some extent in practice by the same cosmopolitan socialists and communists who fought him so bitterly on this score. In his insistence on united action among the different schools of socialism, Borochov, too, was ahead of his times. His predictions of the role of the declassed bourgeoisie as an aid to declining capitalism, is almost a prophecy of fascism. His synthesis of Zionism and socialism suffers, as he admitted later, from dogmatism. Socialist Zionism of today is too much of a movement of idealists to permit itself to be cramped by rigid materialistic formulas. His analysis of the problem of emigration of the Jewish masses cannot be called completely original. It is a logical development of contemporaneous theories. Yet, he predicted, in 1905, the stoppage of world immigration. The concentration of Jewish immigration towards Palestine has come true in our own day.
Many other accomplishments of Borochov remain unknown in the hustle and bustle of partisan life and arguments. In his studies in the field of the Jewish labor movement, he easily shared the honors with another brilliant young theoretician, Jacob Lestshinsky, then a leader in the Z.S. movement. His economic interpretation of Jewish has contributed a great deal to the direction of scholarly research in this field. It is a fact worth mentioning that most of the younger scholars in the field of Jewish history in Poland and Palestine who adhere to this economic approach are Borochovists. His contributions to clarity in the field of the economic development of the Jews are permanent. His analysis of the class relationship and assimilation within the Jewish community, too, is a synthesis rather than an original contribution. Yet, it still stands the test of time. The outstanding merit of Borochov as a thinker was his ability to analyze things as a man of action, too. His own dogmatic convictions never prevented him from seeing reality. For the sake of practical achievement he, unlike many of the socialist thinkers of his day, was willing to put aside many theoretical reservations. Otherwise, how could one explain his joining together with the Austrian non-Marxist Poale Zion and his efforts to present a united front of Jewish labor before the Socialist [Second] International. He never pretended infallibility, though his teachings were the gospel of a movement in his early youth. His gentle cynicism in the latter period of his life, which was aimed at his assertive dogmatic and ideologically self-righteous youth, is a proof of toleration and self-criticism, hardly ever found and thus even more to be desired among theoreticians and founders of socialist movements.
The early Poale Zion groups, it has been noted, had no common ideology. Their varied beliefs were conflicting, the only point of unity being Palestine. Borochov was successful in neutralizing the Vozrozhdenye and Territorialist influences within these groups. Finally, his efforts culminated in the Organizational Convention of the Jewish Social-Democratic Workers Party Poale Zion in Russia which took place in Poltava in February, 1906. The police arrested many of its participants, including Borochov. Yet the convention managed to draft a platform, which was later extended and adopted in final form at the second convention which met in Crakow in August, 1907. The platform followed closely the theories of Borochov. It included both the maximum demands for complete socialization of the means of production and minimum aims for the establishment of territorial autonomy for the Jewish nation in Palestine along democratic principles and through the class struggle. The gulf between the Poale Zion and the bourgeois Zionists was stressed. It allowed for cooperation with them only in practical Palestine activities. Participation in Zionist congresses was advocated, but solely for the purposes of criticism, the support of democracy, and educating the proletariat.
At the same time a different development in Labor Zionism took place in Austria, centering in Galicia. The early Labor Zionist movement found its expression in the organization of trade unions, mutual aid societies, and Zionist groups of workers, clerks and salesmen. These groups emphasized the need for democracy within the Jewish community. They did not hesitate to place the Lumpenproletariatthe petty merchants and hucksterson the same level as the factory workers, and they continually asserted their primary allegiance to Zionism. In 1904 a convention of these groups at Crakow resulted in the organization of the Jewish Socialist Party Poale Zion of Austria. From the point of view of theory, this party differed widely from the Russian one. Its ideologists maintained that the Zionist movement was an expression of the entire Jewish people and transcended class interests. Therefore the Party considered itself an integral part of the Zionist organization and fully adhered to the Basle program. It maintained that the position of the Jewish worker and commercial employee was different from that of the non-Jew, since the Jew had to face both exploitation and discrimination. It warned the Jewish workers against following the teachings of the Social Democrats in Austria who denied this fact. It negated the importance of the socialist solution unless it were combined with a Jewish autonomous territory. It denied the truth of the materialistic view of history, and as a result it also negated the stychic process. Instead it stressed the need for the conscious direction of the migration of the Jewish masses to Palestine. It considered their sentimental ties with this country an important factor in the speedy establishment of the Jewish national home.
The Poale Zion groups in other countries followed in their ideology either the Russian or the Austrian schools. The American movement, which was officially organized as a party at the 1905 convention in Baltimore, followed the Austrian school. Very soon, however, there arose within it a strong Borochovist opposition, which later came to dominate the movement. The parties in Argentina, Romania, and Bulgaria also adhered to the Austrian school. The movement in Great Britain followed Borochov with some divergences. The Palestinian Party, which was organized as a result of the Second Aliya in 1905, began on a strict Borochovist basis. The peculiar conditions of Palestine pioneer life, however, modified its orthodoxy to a great degree within a few years.
Reality encroached upon theories. The two divergent schools of Poale Zionism met at Zionist congresses. Both were active in Galut work; both were seeking new channels for practical activity in Palestine. A world convention of representatives from the different countries met in The Hague in 1907 in connection with the Eighth Zionist Congress. Thus, the Jewish Socialist Workers World Confederation Poale Zion was established. Its program, adopted in 1909, attempted to gloss over ideological differences. It called for the abolition of capitalism and complete socialization of the means of production through the economic and political class struggle of the proletariat, as well as for the territorial solution of the Jewish problem through Jewish mass settlement in Palestine and its neighboring countries. But the differences between the two wings could not be eradicated by formulas of compromise. They continued, latent, until moments of crisis when they flared up openly. They revolved mainly about the problem of participation in the Zionist congresses. The Poale Zion became in 1907 an autonomous federation within Zionism. Yet, this was considered as class collaboration on the part of the Russian membership who, under the influence of Borochov, decided to leave the Congress in 1909. This decision was disputed by most of the other parties. The question was not settled definitely until it became a major factor in the split of 1920. The Russians, too, objected to working for the Jewish National Fund, which they considered an institution created by the bourgeoisie for its own needs. They party substituted for it the Palestine Workers Fund (1909), which failed to gain any appreciable monetary results. Skepticism was also expressed by the Borochovists to Professor Oppenheimers plans for cooperative settlements in Palestine, which later turned out to be a success.
In spite of these differences the World Party functioned as a united body in other respects. It is impossible to give here a detailed presentation of its activities and achievements. In Russia it was the pioneer in the armed self-defense movement against the pogroms. It conducted trade union activities vigorously. It participated actively in the political life of the country, in the revolution of 1905, in the elections to the Duma and local bodies. It conducted an open fight among the workers against anti-Semitism, which was particularly prevalent in the Polish provinces of the country. It was an active factor in the cultural revival of the Yiddish language. It led a successful fight together with other parties against the self-proclaimed monopoly of the Bund. Together with the entire socialist movement it suffered a decline during the reaction which followed the 1905 revolution. In America, it devoted itself largely to Zionist and cultural affairs. It was the first to found Yiddish secular schools where Hebrew, too, was taught, and later was instrumental in the creation of the first American Jewish Congress. In Galicia, it was a potent factor in breaking down the joint monopoly in political and community life of the Chassidim and the Polonized wealthy oligarchy, and fought for the recognition of the Jews as a national group even at the cost of antagonizing the local socialist movement. In Palestine, its members were instrumental in the organization of the trade unions and cooperatives. Its efforts to unite all the Jewish labor parties in order to effect a joint representation of the Jewish proletariat as a national unit within the Second International met with failure because of opposition by the Bund. It was equally unsuccessful in gaining admittance to this body as a world movement because of the opposition of the cosmopolitan socialist leadership. Unlike the other parties, it refused to enter it under the guise of branches of the socialist parties in different countries.
The [First] World War brought new problems to the movement. It was then impossible to conduct the usual socialist activities in most European countries. Unemployment and mass exile caused all the Jewish labor parties to turn their attention to relief activities and the establishment of consumers cooperatives. The Poale Zion maintained its central offices in a neutral country and continued to exercise its efforts to obtain the sympathy of the socialist world for the Jewish people through a series of memoranda and publications. In addition to the usual socialist demands, the Party put forth a program for Jewish rights which included equality, national autonomy in some countries, freedom of emigration, and mass settlement in Palestine under international auspices. In 1916, it was admitted to the Second International as a representative of the Turkish Socialists because of its Palestinian connections. Its demands were included in the 1917 peace manifesto of the International.
At the same time, the World War tended to accentuate the differences within the movement both through the cessation of normal relations between the different countries and through the changes in the economical and political life. The movement in the democratic Allied countries, especially in the United States, abandoned its uncompromising Borochovist ideology and devoted its attention and activities to the fields of relief, community organization and Palestine work of the types frowned upon by the more orthodox Russian brethren. This "ideological retreat" was aided by the presence of Borochov, who came to the United States in 1914 as a refugee from Austria and naturally assumed a position of respect and leadership in the movement.
The later writings of Borochov reveal almost a complete volte-face from early theories. Unfortunately he died before he had the opportunity to revise his system or construct it anew. During his stay in America Borochov was occupied with more practical problems. We suspect that he too succumbed to the more pragmatic atmosphere of American thought. But there are indications aplenty that Borochov strayed far away from Borochovism. His Russian comrades, whom he met again in 1917 after a separation of almost ten years and who followed his orthodox path, could not recognize him. The man who had analyzed microscopically every iota in the programs of all the Jewish labor parties looked in 1915 upon the differences between the anarchists and socialists as Zukunfstmusik. He called himself "a Marxist without matter and a critical empiricist opposed both the materialism and idealism." On the question of the post-revolutionary type of collectivism, he declared himself to be an anarchist socialist. He declared his willingness to let all "these philosophic questions dream peacefully till after the social revolution." He was for the unity of all those who believe in the necessity of vigorous activity towards the abolition of capitalism, "be they socialists, anarchists, syndicalists, I.W.W.s, materialists, Kantians, empirical realists, or revolutionaries from the school of Marx, Kropotkin, or the prophet Isiah." He called for the same type of freedom and unity in Zionism, as long as its purpose was the creation of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. This home was to be built by the partnership of the working class and the entire Jewish people. He abandoned his strict interpretation of the stychic process and emphasized the role of will in social movements. "Years ago," he admitted, "we said: Zionism is a stychic process. Our only task is to remove all the obstacles which interfere with this process. And we left the creative work to the bourgeois Zionists We erred formerly when we contended that natural emigration waves are already under way. General Zionists were closer to the truth when they said that for the present only the organic process has begun." He approved of the efforts made along the lines of cooperative colonization and called it "the way to a socialist society in Palestine. While this colonization is not in itself socialism, it does teach the Jewish proletariat the elementary lessons of self-help." Borochov also widened his concept of the tasks of the Jewish proletariat. Palestine was to be more than a strategic base for its struggle. The task of the proletariat was to build Palestine as a home for the "entire Jewish people." The proletariat desired to build a new life and Palestine was to be the base for its creativity. Thus he saw clearly the ideological motivation in Socialist Zionism. He saw in the struggle against assimilation something much more than a struggle for a strategic base. Then it was to him the fight of all the Jewish masses against the attempt of national suicide on a part of the Jewish intelligentsia and upper bourgeoisie. The masses, he declared, "will not yield to the notion that the Jew disappear among foreign nations and alien cultures."
Borochov also changed his terminology. The terms, "the entire Jewish people," and "the Jewish masses," were used by him in his later stage in addition to the term "proletariat" which he previously employed almost exclusively when discussing any constructive tasks. He advocated making the terminology of the movement more elastic. He looked upon the stern and mechanistic expressions of his younger days as a product of a period during which "no one believed in romance, ornaments, or adornment." He called for an abandonment of the "naïvely realistic" view on life. Most characteristic is his return to the ancient name, Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel), for Palestina. To Zionists the land of Israel had to be Eretz Yisrael. For young Borochov and his followers, a sentimental name of this type would not befit the territorial center which was to be a result of a stychic process. They always referred to it as "Palestina" and abandoned the historical name which was accepted among the Yiddish speaking masses. The later Borochov openly returned to the "emotional terminology" and to the dismay of his Borochovist comrades, he exclaimed, "Now we can and must proclaim: Eretz Yisraela Jewish home!"
It was natural that the new Borochov could not be accepted by the old Borochovists, especially those of Eastern Europe. The Poale Zion movement was never completely Borochovist; it was composed of the two conflicting trends in Labor Zionism, the Marxian and the non-Marxian. As long as both the upbuilding of Palestine and the social revolution were subjects mainly for discussion and petty activities, they could work together. After the Balfour Declaration and the March Revolution in Russia, this unity had to be abandoned. Cooperation with the bourgeois Zionists in their congresses and funds, the establishment of the Hechalutz movement and the Jewish legion, the direction of colonization into cooperative channels, the task of obtaining the recognition of minority rights through the Jewish congresses in several countriesall these problems had to be decided upon not as theoretical matters but as the actual needs of the day. On the other side, the Poale Zion had to make up their mind about the future of democracy in Russia and the future of world socialism.
The November Revolution decided all these problems for the movement by causing its split. It is doubtful whether even the commanding personality of Borochov could have stopped it had he continued to live. Most of the Russian Poale Zion who were brought up on Borochovism, which is as revolutionary as the extremist form of Leninism, joined the Bolsheviks. Some began to cooperate with them in city councils and other political activities immediately after the March Revolution. The November Revolution found their leftist elements ready for full cooperation with the Bolsheviks. Many joined the Red Army as special Borochov brigades and units. The organization of the Third International brought them nearer to the communists. In justice to them it must be stated here that they certainly did not anticipate the turn of events which was to take place both in the Soviet Union and world socialism. Those were the days when world revolution was almost a certainty to them. The communist Poale Zion hoped for a defeat of world imperialism and for the immigration of the Jewish masses into Palestine with the aid of the World Soviet Republic. Some even planned the organization of a Jewish Red Army which was to drive the British imperialist troops out of Palestine. The majority of the movement went with the communistic wing (which later become known as and still is called the Left Poale Zion) which became weakened because of the steady loss of its membership to the Russian and other communist parties. They looked upon themselves as the future Jewish section of the Comintern. Their negotiations with this body came to naught because of the objections of the ex-Bundists and other "Jewish" Jewish communists who still had old accounts to settle with the Poale Zion. Because of their unblemished revolutionary record, a small number of the intransigents who refused to join the general rush into the Communist Party was tolerated in the Soviet Union until 1928. Till that year the Left Poale Zion was an officially recognized communistic party with its own press and youth movement. Almost all of its members joined the Communist Party. Some have figured prominently in the recent Trotskyite trials and expulsions.
The Left Poale Zion have been more successful for some years in Poland and Palestine than in Russia. They have undergone several splits. They are the only orthodox Borochovists left, and their number and influence are constantly decreasing. Borochovism also left some marks on the ideology of Hashomer Hatzair, but not enough o call this extremist Marxian wing in Zionism a Borochovist one.
Not all the Labor Zionists in Russia joined the Poale Zion. At about 1906 there arose new youth groups in Eastern Europe under the names Zeire Zion and Hatechiyah. Their main aim, settlement in Palestine, brought them into close ideological contact with the growing labor movement of this country. It was natural for settlers to joint the non-Marxian Hapoel Hatzair rather than the Poale Zion, whom they knew so well from Russia. Meetings of these groups at the various Zionist congresses culminated in the unification of the Hapoel Hatzair and Zeire Zion groups at the Eleventh Zionist Congress in Vienna (1913) on a platform which called for complete democratization of the Zionist Organization and for support of the Palestine labor movement. Slowly, the Zeire Zion drifted to the left. Under the influence of the Russian Revolution they adopted a socialist ideology which in its Zionist side was similar to that of Austrian Poale Zion and which in its views on socialist and nationalist problems resembled that of the Russian Socialist Revolutionaries. They denied the importance of the class struggle between the Jewish workers and their petty employers; they would substitute for it the productivization of both of these poverty stricken elements to normalize Jewish economic life. The class struggle to them implied all efforts at the improvement of the situation of the workers, including the establishment of cooperatives. They differed radically from the Yiddishist Poale Zion in their demands for the sole use of the Hebrew language in Palestine and for the equality of both Yiddish and Hebrew in the Galut. They paid most attention to Palestine work. This accounts for their organic connection with the Hechalutz pioneer movement; the organization and early guidance of which can be attributed to them.
At the Fifth World Convention (Vienna, 1920), the Poale Zion decided to join the Comintern. The adherents of the Right Wing, who were willing to join this body under the condition that it should include all the revolutionary socialist parties with the right of independent action, organized a new world union. It joined the Vienna International and later was absorbed together with it in the new reorganized Second International. Despite the internal differences concerning the language problem and the participation in Zionist congresses it managed to maintain its unity. The most characteristic aspect of the Right Poale Zion was its desire for the unification of the Labor Zionist movement. In 1925 it united with the World Union of the Left Wing Zeire Zion (in 1919 this organization was split as a result of its adoption of a definite socialist program) under the name World Jewish Socialist Workers Party Poale Zion (united with the Zionist Socialist Alliance). The new organization adopted practically a Poale Zion platform, with the only exceptions of the recognition of choice between Yiddish and Hebrew, of the special position of Yiddish in the Galut and of the right for minorities to foster Hebrew cultural activities. By this time, no more doubts existed concerning participation in Zionist congresses.
The Right Wing of Zeire Zion joined the Palestinian non-Marxian Hapoel Hatzair in the Zionist Labor Party Hitachdut. In 1929 the Palestine Poale Zion known as Achudat Haavoda united with the Hapoel Hatzair to form the Mapai (Mifleget Poale Eretz YisraelPalestine Labor Party) which was recognized by the Second International as the Jewish Section in Palestine. This action led to further unity of the movement. The Hitachdut Party united with the Poale Zion Party in 1931. The two organizations merged in the U.S.A. in 1931 to form the present United Jewish Socialist Labor Party Poale Zion-Zeire Zion of America. In 1936 a section of the Left Poale Zion in Palestine joined the Mapai. Thus the overwhelming majority of the Socialist Zionist movement is now united in one party, except for the communist Left Poale Zion, the youth movement Hashomer Hatzair (an extremely left wing revolutionary socialist youth group and its adult movement the Socialist League in Palestine), as well as some smaller youth organizations. Yet, even these extremist movements are at present cooperating in the Histradut, the General Federation of Jewish Labor in Palestine, and the World League for Labor Palestine. The Labor Zionists have since the [First] World War become the most powerful factor and strongest wing within the Zionist movement.
The united party of today resembles in its composition the pre-war World Party. Though it is well knit and united in action and policies, its different component wings are still clearly differentiated. The Mapai is the ideological leader of the movement by the virtue of its numerical strength and the tremendous influence of Palestine today. The adherents of the former Poale Zion of the Marxist variety form its revolutionary Left Wing. They still follow to some extent the early teachings of Borochov, though they would modify and reinterpret them. The left wing also includes former Left Poale Zionists, who differ with the communists only on the Jewish problem, and others who joined it because of its concrete Palestinian activities. A very influential group is the former Right Poale Zion of Russia, Poland, and Palestine who follow the Reformist school of Marxism. They could be classified as adherents of the later Borochov. The former Hitachdut or Zeire Zion adherents, as well as the Austrian Poale Zion, have retained their non-materialistic approach to social problems. The influence of the former Hapoel Hatzairwho seek in their activities a solution to their personal problems as men, look upon the party as a comradely collective, and adhere to the "religion of labor" ideas of A.D. Gordonis still felt strongly. Naturally, the only reason for the effective unity and joint action among so many different groups is their common desire to reconstruct Jewish life on the basis of socialism and Zionism, and their practical work in Palestine.
The various parties in the Galut are led mainly by the former Poale Zion. They reflect the peculiar conditions of the different countries, both in their ideologies and methods. In Poland and France, for instance, they are largely revolutionary. In the United States and England, they are mainly Reformist. The Polish party has retained more of Borochovism than any other branch of the movement. They, too, are united in their common aims, in spite of so many differences. They most characteristic aspect of the present movement, in contrast to the pre-War period, is the scant attention which is given by it to abstract theorizing in most countries, especially in Palestine. The cause of this change is the preoccupation with the concrete tasks of the construction of the Jewish National Home. This lack of concern with theories makes it impossible to give at the present time an answer to the baffling question: "What remains of Borochov?"
(This essay was written in 1937. Mapai, under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion was the leading party in Israel from its founding until the 1970s. It later changed its name to the Labor Party and in 1999 ran under the name "One Israel" winning the office of Prime Minister with Ehud Barak. Hashomer Hatzair still exists today as a youth movement and in the Kibbutz Artzi Federation. Both these groups participated in the founding of the political party Mapam which has served on the left wing of the Knesset since the founding of the state of Israel and also participated in several Labor governments for some years being partnered with Mapai in the "Labor Alignment." Mapam left the alignment when Labor formed a national unity government with Likud in the 1980s. In the 1990s Mapam merged with others on the left to become the Meretz Party which today is a partner in Ehud Baraks governing coalition.)
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