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Texts Concerning Zionism: "Poalei Tziyon - Our Platform"

by Ber Dov Borochov (1906)


The general definition of the National Problem, as determined by scientific analysis, is the conflict between the development of the forces of production of a social aggregate and its general conditions of production. Indeed, the most prevalent national conflict is created by conflict with external [foreign] conditions of production.  The most general prerequisite of the development of the forces of production, which is also the container and basis for all the internal conditions, as well as the pipeline for external influences -- is the territory in which the group lives. The territory comprises all the internal conditions of production; it is the ultimate source and governs all outside influences. Territory is the positive base of a distinct, independent national life.

Extraterritorial peoples lack this positive base. In the course of their adaptation to the natural and historic environment of the nations among whom they dwell, they tend to lose their distinctive national traits and to merge with the surrounding social milieu. That such peoples nevertheless exist as distinct national entities demonstrates that objective forces do not permit them to adapt themselves to the surrounding social milieu, or, at best, hinder the process of their adaptation. Two diametrically opposed forces operated in the life of landless peoples: an assimilationist factor, which is a result of the desire of the group to adapt itself to the environment, and an isolationist factor, which fences off the group from  environmental pressure. The second factor (isolation) operates as a negative element in the national development of expatriated peoples.

The national cohesion of territorial groups is based upon their national material patrimony, that is, on their territories and the material conditions of production therein. A territorial nation possesses its own national economy within which the development of the forces of production therein. A territorial nation possesses its own national economy within which the development of the forces of production takes place, and thus it constitutes a complete economic unity. In the course of its development, a nation’s forces of production may be hampered by the resistance of adverse conditions. The nation is then faced by a conflict which arises from the need to expand the filed of opportunities which determines its production. This necessitates the invasion of foreign territories. In such a case, the forces of production of a given group suffer from the intrusion of foreign economic interests, that group is faced by a national conflict which arises from the need of guarding the integrity of its national territory. The policies of such a nation are defensive (protective) in character.

The class struggle is the concrete expression of the social conflicts which arise because the development of the forces of production disturbs the mode of economic relations of production. The national struggle, however, is an expression of the conflict between the developing forces of production and the existing conditions of production. But whereas social conflicts, such as the class struggle, take place within the socio-economic organism, national conflicts transcend the bounds of the territorial economic unit. Of course we are not speaking of completely isolated economic units, for such do not exist. But we do have to recognize the existence of relatively independent economic units. The increasing economic interdependence of the capitalistic system makes it possible for us to speak of even a world economy

There is a marked distinction between national and social conflicts. The class struggle – the concrete expression of social conflicts – grows out of the economic exploitation of one class by another. Competition within the bounds of a definite group is of importance only to the individuals concerned and does not provoke any social conflicts; competition between the individuals of a social group is a social phenomenon but not a social problem. National struggles, however, grow out of competition between national groups; and the exploitation of one national group by another is merely an incidental phenomenon which creates no crucial social problem. Only in one case does national exploitation attain the importance of an acute social problem, namely, when two national groups live together in one economic unit but constitute two distinct classes. Such a relationship exists in India, for instance, where the British residents form the class of bureaucrats and capitalists while the natives form the class of peasants and workers.

From a social point of view, national competition under capitalism is very different from individual competition. Individual competition aids in the development of the forces of production, sharpens the inner contradictions, and undermines the bases of the capitalistic society. National competition, however, is a hindrance to individual competition and acts in the same manner as a monopoly. In Czarist Russia, for example, the Jew could have held his ground in competition with the individual Russian; but since this was an economic struggle between two national groups, the Russian majority was in a position to eliminate the competition from the Jewish minority. National competition, like any factor which tends to paralyze the freedom of individual competition, hampers the development of a capitalistic economy and defers its rise and ultimate decline. National competition is not merely a struggle between two groups; it is an endeavor of one national group to seize the material possessions of another national group and to replace the latter minority along economic lines.

Effective national competition is possible only within the national economic territory. No nation can compete successfully unless it has a strategic base. When national competition takes place between a nation living on its own territory and one that is expatriated, the territorial nation endeavors to expel the expatriated one and to deprive it of the use of its economic resources. But since the expatriated nation has no basic possessions of its own, it cannot exist unless it is allowed to use the material possessions of the majority nation.

In order to penetrate the economic sphere of the native population, the expatriated nationality endeavors to adapt itself to the conditions prevailing in its new home. The native inhabitants, however, do not allow their economic strongholds to pass into the hands of the newly arrived immigrants. The new immigrant groups are therefore forced to become "useful" by turning to economic files as yet unoccupied. They are tolerated as long as they are active in economic functions which no one has previously assumed. But when the development of the forces of production has reached a stage wherein the native population can itself perform those same economic functions, the foreign nationality becomes "superfluous," and a movement is begun to rid the country of its "foreigners." Since the "foreigners" have no national material possessions to use in the competitive struggle with the native population, they are forced to yield their economic positions, thereby losing their livelihood. In short, the landless nationality can more or less withstand exploitation, bad as it may be; but as soon as exploitation is replaced by national competition, the landless nationality loses its economic position.

At no one time is the foreign group allowed to enter into agriculture and other basic industries. Even when it is being exploited, the foreign group is tolerated only in commerce and in the last levels of production. As soon as the native population is ready to occupy those positions, the foreign nationality is entirely isolated from any possibilities to access on the economy of the land in which it lives. A national struggle thus comes into being.

The Jews are the classic example of an expatriated group. The Jewish nation in the Diaspora [Diaspora] has no material possessions of its own, and it is helpless in the national competition struggle.

In our analysis of the Jewish problem we must bear in mind the fact that the national struggle is closely allied with the social. There is no struggle which is equally in the interest of all the classes of a nation. Every class has national interests differing from the national interests of other classes. National movements do not transcend class divisions; they merely represent the interests of one of several classes within the nation. A national conflict develops not because the development of the forces of production of the whole nation conflicts with the conditions of production, but rather because the developing needs of one or more classes clash with the conditions of production of its national group. Hence the great variety of types of nationalism and national ideologies.

Since the Jewish nation has no peasantry, our analysis of its national problems deals with urban classes: the upper, middle and petty bourgeoisie; the masses who are being proletarianized; and the proletariat.

The upper bourgeoisie, because it is not confined to the home market, is not national in any true sense, but highly cosmopolitan. The Jewish bourgeoisie finds its interests best served by assimilation; and were it not for the "poor Ostjuden" [East European Jews], the Jewish upper bourgeoisie would not be disturbed by the Jewish problem. The continuous stream of immigration of East European Jews and frequent pogroms remind the upper bourgeoisie of Western Europe only too often of the miserable lot of their brethren. The East European Jewish bourgeoisie is, of course, more directly affected by the state of Jewry. The West European upper bourgeoisie, however, considers the entire problem to be a gratuitous and unpleasant burden. And yet it cannot find a safe retreat away from our East European masses. Since the Jewish upper bourgeoisie would like above all else to lose its individuality and be assimilated completely by the native bourgeoisie, it is very much affected by anti-Semitism. If anti-Semitism were the hobby of only a few psychopathic and feeble-minded individuals, it would not be dangerous. But anti-Semitism is very popular among the masses, and very frequently its propaganda is tied up closely with the social unrest of the lowest elements of the working class. This creates a dangerous culmination of Judaeophobia.

Anti-Semitism is becoming a dangerous political movement. Anti-Semitism flourishes because of the national competition between the Jewish and non-Jewish petty bourgeoisie and between the Jewish and non-Jewish proletarianized and unemployed masses. Anti-Semitism menaces both the poor helpless Jews and the all-powerful Rothschilds. The latter, however, understand very well where the source of the trouble lies: the poverty-ridden Jewish masses are at fault. The Jewish plutocracy abhors these masses, but anti-Semitism reminds it of its kinship to them. Two souls reside within the breast of the Jewish upper bourgeoisie – the soul of a proud European and the soul of an unwilling guardian of his Eastern coreligionists. Were there no anti-Semitism, the misery and poverty of the Jewish emigrants would be of little concern to the Jewish upper bourgeoisie. It is impossible, however, to leave them in some West European city (on their way to a place of refuge) in the care of the local government, for that would arouse anti-Semitic ire. Therefore, in spite of themselves and despite their efforts to ignore the Jewish problem, the Jewish aristocrats must turn philanthropists. They must provide shelter for the Jewish emigrants and must make collections for pogrom-ridden Jewry. Everywhere the Jewish problem and a means of being delivered of the Jewish masses. This is the sole form in which the Jewish problem presents itself to the Jewish upper bourgeoisie.

The middle bourgeoisie, thee "Jewish Balebatim", [literally "Home Owners" - the "nobs"]  the Jewish class whose existence is more or less secure,   is bound more closely to the Jewish masses. In general, the economic interests of a middle and petty bourgeoisie depend on the internal market; that market is coextensive with the boundaries of the spread of the national language and everything connected with it: literature, education, culture, and culturalism in general.  Therefore, in the case of territorial nations, the middle and petty bourgeoisie are the chief supporters of all types of "cultural" nationalism. Since the the Jewish petty and middle bourgeoisie has no territory and market, and operate in a foreign internal market, it falls under the influence of assimilatory forces in Jewish life. On the other hand, because of the intense national competition raging among the middle and petit bourgeoisie, the isolating factor is felt in every branch of activity. Anti-Semitism is at the root of all the discriminatory laws against Jews in politically backward countries and of the social boycott in the bourgeois-democratic countries. The boycott, which is becoming more conscious, organized and more intensive, overtakes the Jewish bourgeoisie everywhere: in trade, in industry, in social life, in periodical journals and non-periodic printed matter. With the growth of capitalist relations in a society in which Jews live, there is a corresponding growth of political democracy on the one hand, and of national competition on the other. Usually we find, that the good hearted publicists who write about the Jewish problem discern only one of these two inseparable processes in the development of capitalist economy. The optimists who fail to understand that they are faced with a bourgeois regime, a regime of contradictions, full of conflicts, discern only one process regarding the Jewish question -- democratization, which brings about the elimination from constitutions and laws of all sorts of strictures against Jews, as well as the weakening of the darkest form of Jew-hate, such as pogroms. However, along with this process, the advanced process of  continual sharpening of national competition in bourgeois society strengthens Jew-hate in the form of "the law of custom" [societal norms] as it is called, that is, makes it more conscious, and organizes the social  boycott against the Jews. The Jewish bourgeoisie, with no territory and no market of its own, is powerless against this menace.

This growing isolation of  the Jewish physician, engineer,  journalist, merchant and industrialist is one of their conditions of production, which stymies the development of their forces of production and creates the Jewish question for them.   Jewish misery is thus closer to them than to the very rich Jews. However, their nationalism takes on the special culturist hue. As for the Jewish petty bourgeoisie,  lacking any means of support in their struggle for a market, they tend to speak of an independent political existence and of a Jewish state where they would play a leading role. They feel the effects of state anti-Semitism very strongly and therefore strive to protect Jewish civil and national rights. Since they are directly affected by the poverty and degeneration of the Jewish masses, they tend to advocate a Jewish national policy. But as long as they succeed in retaining their middle class position, as long as the boycott and the isolation brought about by anti-Semitism have not yet undermined their material well being, the center of gravity of their political interests continues to be here, in the Diaspora, in their regular places of settlement and their habitual business pursuits. Their needs remain outside the Jewish national sphere, for the conflict between their economic interests and the conditions of production restricting Jewish life has not yet sufficiently matured.  In other words, as long as the Jewish middle bourgeoisie remains  middle bourgeoisie, it is relatively unconcerned with the Jewish problem. The Jewish problem is a cause of certain discomforts to the middle class, but the class is not sufficiently hard pressed to gather the forces and energy to effect a radical change in its condition. Its national energy can be utilized to a certain extent  to change the fundamental structure of  Jewish life, but the middle class as a whole can never be the base for a movement of Jewish liberation. To this is added the generally reactionary tenor of the middle bourgeois psyche, its unsuitability for broad realistic creation. Without the help of other progressive national classes, the middle bourgeoisie hasn't the ability to produce material [people apparently] for prolonged historical construction, and it cannot give vital form to the material that is already available. The independent policy of the the middle bourgeoisie always looks more like a game and a pastime than a serious public undertaking.


For the purpose of this analysis [literally "research"] we may consider the Jewish petty bourgeoisie and the proletarianized masses as one group. As a result of historical circumstances, this group constitutes a large majority of the Jewish people. To us proletarian Zionists, this class is doubly significant. In the first place, the Jewish proletariat has become socially differentiated has become socially differentiated from the larger group only recently. (To understand the Jewish proletariat it is necessary to analyze properly the petty bourgeoisie, which still serves as its reservoir of manpower.) Secondly, the heterogeneous mass of emigrating petty bourgeoisie and proletarians-to-be is the main source of the human material for the future Jewish rehabilitation.

National competition, which is characterized by economic isolation and government boycott, both organized and unorganized, weighs heavily on the back of the Jewish petty bourgeoisie. The Jewish petty bourgeoisie suffers much more acutely than does the petty bourgeoisie of any other nation and is forced to enter the ranks of the proletariat. However, the extent to which Jews can become members of the established working class is insufficient. Capitalistic economy requires a large reserve of unemployed labor. To this reserve the Jewish petty bourgeoisie supplies a larger percentage of its number than does the petty bourgeoisie of other peoples.

Should we divide world production into two groups, one of which is engaged in creating the means of production and the other in producing consumers’ goods, we would find that Jewish capital is invested mainly in the production of consumers’ goods. Because of the effects of national rivalry among the masses who are in search of jobs, Jewish labor finds employment almost exclusively at the hands of the small Jewish industrialist. Hatred of Jews on the part of non-Jewish employers and non-Jewish workers practically excludes Jewish labor from non-Jewish workshops.

Aside from the intentional boycott, both organized and unorganized, there are other factors which contribute toward the inability of the Jewish worker, steeped in the traditions of a non-worker’s life, requires much more comfort and luxury;  therefore he adapts himself more quickly to the class conflict and enters the struggle with his employer more readily than the non-Jewish worker. In addition, for a number of historical reasons, the Jewish worker is not as prepared technically as the non-Jewish city bred worker. National competition is found even in the well-developed countries, such as America, England, and South Africa – wherever the Jewish immigrants encounter masses of non-Jewish immigrants who are better adapted to obtain employment. As a result Jewish labor gains employment mainly from the Jewish middle bourgeoisie.

As soon as the national conflicts and national competition grow intense, a conscious anti-Jewish boycott is undertaken which results in immigration restrictions. In both England and America there is ample evidence of a growth of anti-Semitism with all its reactionary characteristics and consequences. Since Jewish capital becomes the sole employer of Jewish labor, the growing need for proletarianization among the Jewish masses cannot be satisfied.

Jewish capital is mainly invested in the production of consumers’ goods. This type of production is usually characterized by seasonal employment, sweatshop conditions, and piece-work. The exclusion of Jewish labor from the heavy industries is so prevalent that non-Jewish workers consider them as their own special field of employment. The encounters between the Jewish and non-Jewish workers at Bialystok are ample proof of this state of affairs.

The national problem of the declining Jewish petty bourgeoisie consists in its search for a market which should free it from the horrible economic isolation which characterizes it at present.

In the case of this group, the national problem is very acute. To solve it, the Jewish petty bourgeoisie is forced to abandon its native lands and to migrate to new countries, but even there it finds no satisfactory solution. Misery overtakes the bourgeoisie; poverty is its lot in the new country. It therefore enters the labor market and is transformed into a part of the working masses. In the labor market, too, it must face national competition. Consequently, the proletarianized Jewish petty bourgeoisie can penetrate only the final levels of production. Thus there arises a national struggle based on need and the impossibility of satisfying the need.

The national question of the petty bourgeoisie, then, is the quest for a national market and the conservation of the associated cultural institutions such as the language, national education, etc. Concretely, the problem of the Jewish petty bourgeoisie is that of emigration: the quest of an expatriated nation for a place of economic security.

The Jewish problem migrates with the Jews. Thus a universal Jewish problem is created which involves not only Jewish philanthropists but also the political powers of the civilized nations.

In general the existence of an impoverished petty bourgeoisie constitutes a great danger. This element represents the decaying remnants of a previous economic order. They are socially and psychologically disorganized and constitute a "mob" whose activities will be characterized mainly by chaos and reaction. Wherever they are given a chance to engage independently in the solution of a social problem, they inevitably produce undesirable and chaotic results. The progressive forces within a democratic country must always be on the alert lest these elements cause irreparable damage. But these "dregs of the capitalistic order" also participate in the quest for a solution of the Jewish problem. Pogroms and other primitive forms of reaction – these are their method of solving the Jewish problem. This "solution" succeeds only in poisoning the entire surrounding political life. This mob is the same everywhere: in Baku and in London, in Kishinev and in New York, in New Orleans and in Berlin, in Tokyo and in Melbourne, in San Francisco and in Vienna. Everywhere its method is identical: pogroms and violence. It kills Jews in Russia, massacres Armenians in Caucasia, and lynches Negroes in America. This mob is the mainstay of all political charlatans and of all the reactionary forces of a moribund social order. These excesses which the dying regime sponsors are a permanent menace to law and order in democratic countries. But they are inevitable as long as migrations of petty bourgeois and proletarian masses continue and as long as national competition exists between them and the corresponding Jewish classes. It is significant that these anti-social methods of solving the Jewish problem are employed by the most reactionary elements of society under the leadership of representatives of the middle bourgeoisie and the chauvinistic intelligentsia. The democratic governments, however, cannot afford such chaotic methods for the solution of any problem. For these interfere with the law and order which are so necessary for the proper development of capitalism. Open violence and public scandals are not in the interests of the ruling bourgeoisie. Both the bourgeoisie and the revolutionary proletariat are equally interested in a peaceful and systematic solution of the various problems, including the Jewish problem.

How then is the solution of the problem to be achieved? Those factors which tend to intensify the conflict did not exist in the feudal countries where Jews had been living for a long time. The complete social isolation of the Jews and the migrations common to Jews and non-Jews alike are of recent appearance and are closely bound up with the development of capitalism. Under these circumstances it is futile to resort to assimilation as a solution. It my sound paradoxical, but it is true nevertheless, that in the Middle Ages the prospects for assimilation were not as utopian as they are under the present order. In the Middle Ages the isolation of the Jew was not as fundamental as it is at the present time. The Jews, though excluded from the basic economic processes of life, nevertheless had some economic foundation. They fulfilled a function which accelerated the development of the system of production of that society and were thus "useful." The then existing civilized world was their national market. Later, as capitalism developed, the Jews were eliminated, and wholesale expulsion took place. But this was not typical of every country where Jews lived and did not occur in all places at the same time.

Only in the first epoch of the newly developed industrial capitalism did the assimilating factor operate strongly in Jewish life.

It was then that the industrial revolution caused the walls of the Ghetto to collapse, and a wide field of free competition was opened to the Jews. The epoch of the decisive struggle between capitalism and feudalism was the golden era of Jewish assimilation. But this era of free competition which characterized the rise of capitalism was superseded by national competition. Then assimilation gave way to isolation.

All assimilationists are essentially Utopianists, for all the forces operating within Jewish life point in a diametrically opposed direction. Intensified national competition does not stimulate Jews to assimilate; on the contrary, it strengthens the bounds of national solidarity. It unites all the scattered parts of the Jewish nation into one isolated unit. Along with the development of the inner national forces, national competition evokes universal interest in the solution of the Jewish problem.

All the processes operating with Jewish life arise from national competition against the Jews and are influenced by Jewish migration. Therefore, to obtain a correct perspective of the development and dynamics of Jewish life, it is necessary to make a thorough investigation of the tendencies of Jewish migration.

Emigration alone does not solve the Jewish problem. It leaves the Jew helpless in a strange country. For the reason Jewish immigration and any other national immigration tend toward compact settlements. This concentration alleviates the process of adaptation to the newly found environment, but at the same time it accelerates the rise of national competition in the countries into which the Jews have recently immigrated. If so large a number of Jewish immigrants had not settled in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, it is doubtful whether national competition against them would have come into existence; but the existence of the Jews as such would have become impossible. The outward contradictions of Jewish immigration – the clash between the habits brought along from the old country and the conditions in the new country – necessitate concentration.

Such concentration, however, contains a double contradiction. Mass concentration aims at facilitating the process of adaptation to the new environment, but it results in the segregation of the newly arrived group and hinders the process of adaptation. Upon his arrival, the immigrant seeks to enter the first levels of production. Through their concentration in the large cities, the Jews retain their former economic traditions and are condemned to the final levels of production – the manufacturing of consumers’ goods. Thus the need of the Jews to develop their forces of production and to become proletarianized remains unsatisfied.

The contradictions inherent in this process lead to decentralization of the concentrated mass of immigrants. Jewry settles in more or less compact masses not in one place, but in many, thus aggravating the problem. Instead of remaining localized, the contradictions appear in numerous places. The Jewish problem thus becomes more acute and evolves into a world problem.

As a result of these two fundamental contradictions, the Jewish petty bourgeoisie and working masses are confronted by two needs. The impossibility of penetrating into the higher levels of production creates the need for concentrated immigration into an undeveloped country. Instead of being limited to the final levels of the production as is the case in all other countries, the Jews could in a short time assume the leading position in the economy of the new land. Jewish migration must be transformed from immigration into colonization. This means a territorial solution of the Jewish problem.

In order that the Jewish immigration may be diverted to colonization of undeveloped countries, it is not sufficient that the colonization merely should be useful to the Jews. It is also necessary that the immigration to the previous centers become more difficult. This, as a matter of fact, is taking place. Because of national competition, immigration into the well-need for Jewish emigration is steadily becoming greater; and it can no longer be satisfied by the old centers of absorption. New lands must be found, and the emigrants increasingly tend to go to semi-agricultural countries.

To avoid decentralization, there is need for organizational forces which would unite the Jewish masses and which would introduce system into the stychic processes of migration. Left alone, Jewish migration will continue to be a confused and scattering process. A new and conscious element is required. The Jewish emigrating masses must be organized and their movements, directed. That is the task of the conscious Jewish proletariat.

The scheme of the dynamics of Jewish life operate as follows:

(1) emigration of the petty bourgeoisie who turn to proletarianization,

(2) concentration of Jewish immigration, and

(3) organized regulation of this immigration. The first two factors are the products of the stychic processes operating in Jewish life; the last, however is introduced by the organized Jewish proletariat.

Capitalistic economy has reached the stage where no revolutionary changes are possible without the participation of the working masses and especially of the organized sections of the proletariat. Not any revolution is possible. Even the first Russian Social Democrats had the full right to say, "the liberation of Russia will be brought about by the workers' movement, or it won't happen at all." That is what we say about territorialism, "The liberation of the Jewish people will be brought about by the workers' movement, or it won't happen at all."  But the labor movement has only one weapon at its command: the class struggle. Class struggle must assume a political character if it is to lead to a better future. Territorialism may be a most urgent need of the Jewish people, but nonetheless it will not go beyond a utopia, if the organized revolutionary Jewish proletariat does not join the territorial movement and does not implement it in its own way, through class struggle.

Proletarian Zionism is possible only if Zionism can be implemented through class struggle; Zionism can be realized only if proletarian Zionism can be realized. However, if the Jewish Proletariat was no special means of its own to implement Zionism, Zionism is not viable.


Proletarian Zionism is a very complex product, the result of the tortuous and prolonged course of development of Jewish proletarian ideology . If we ignore all the factors that are random, temporary or local within those complex changes which in any case complicate the path of any deep social process, we can, nonetheless, discern certain characteristics, and especially, the operation of the law of conservation of energy.

As with any social movement, so the development of Jewish proletarian ideology is the result of a prolonged conflict between the broad social need of the masses and the impossibility of providing it.

The major forces that bring about the conflict work in two fundamental directions: a direct social conflict between the means of production of the Jewish proletariat and state of the relations of production of the Jewish proletariat and between the general conditions of production, within which it develops. Two huge missions face the Jewish proletariat -- a social problem and a national problem. Changing the method of production [the reference is to the social organization of production] which inhibits the productive forces of modern society, and elimination of national oppression, which is an inhibitory force no less significant than the first.

The social conflict is always clearer and closer to the proletariat than the national conflict. At first the social conflict is expressed in the private relations of the worker to his employer, and the same situation is caused by the capitalist economy, which allows the worker to actually control the means of production, providing the worker with a weapon in the struggle. The open exploitation of the worker by the employer, on the one hand, and on the other, the unmediated means which the worker has, to stop work and force concessions from the employer -- these provide a clear coloring to the economic side of the social conflict, and therefore there is no need for prolonged development of the conflict before the worker perceives that aspect of it. The political side of that conflict is far more complicated, and therefore more difficult to analyze and understand. The forces at work here are far from the worker. The collision with them occurs at a relatively high level of the development of the economic conflict.

The law of sparing of forces is the great principle of organic and social mechanisms, which is a direct result of the general principle of conservation of energy. Owing to that law, every conflict tries to resolve itself within the same conditions that created it. It is only gradually understood that the conditions themselves must be changed, moving the center of gravity gradually to a new set of conditions, further and further from the old ones. One of the manifestations of this law is the fact that at first the proletariat seeks salvation in an economic struggle, and only later does the conflict take on a political aspect. The Jewish proletariat passed through the two main stage of the development of the social conflict quickly: The economic struggle transformed easily into a political struggle, and that is because of the especially harsh conditions of the Russian regime.

The national conflict is an infinitely more complex universe than the social conflict. The private relations between the oppressor and the oppressed have a less egregious role here. Along with the personal aspect of the national collisions, the impersonal aspect of national repression is immediately evident. The stychic, anonymous character of class exploitation is revealed only in a much advanced stage of ideological development, while national oppression immediately reveals its mass, anonymous, impersonal pattern. The oppressed Jew does not see before himself a single gentile who may be blamed for all the problems of the Jew. No, he is oppressed, quite clearly by an entire social group, and from the first, the Jew is unable to understand the essence of his social relations to that social group. It is necessary for the national conflict to mature considerably, in order to to invest enough in analysis of that conflict in order to pose the question correctly. Additionally [unlike the class conflict] there are no mutual relations between the nationalities that give the oppressed peoples any direct means of struggle.

Even advanced thinking of humanity in our day has not yet found a clear and explicit viewpoint regarding the national question, while the social question was worked up most thoroughly and in-depth. It may be stated with complete justice, that the national question is still awaiting its clarifier, and that until now it has been wrapped in obscurity just as it was several decades ago. [Borochov means that Marxism explained the class struggle, while nobody has explaned the national struggle].

Therefore the stages of maturation of of national conflicts for the proletariat are much more numerous than those of the social conflict. And the law of parsimony of force is also in operation. The Jewish Proletariat, in trying to solve its national problem, tried first to solve it within the conditions that created the the problem, and only gradually reached the really revolutionary solution, involving the need to radically alter the essential conditions of its national experience.

The initial and rudimentary means of adaptation are doomed to failure in the course of development and are to be replaced by more complex and "plastic" means, if one may say so. Certainly, the future does not belong to the simplest responses of a certain group to prolonged conflicts. However, at present, as long as the the complex and coordinated responses are more difficult to elicit, the simple and unsuccessful means are more pervasive in the interested group,  The future belongs to the complex means of adaptation, but at present the most primitive responses appear to be winning out.

In connection with the difference we discussed between the the social and national conflicts, we often find mutual interrelationships, such that the proletarian program reveals complex and most developed adaptation, while at the same time it is simplistic and unsuccessful in its responses to national oppression. While the same program is certainly advanced in its understanding of class problems and relations of production, it may lag behind, or even be quite reactionary, in its understanding of the national problem and the conditions of productive life. When we compare the programs of the different parties that are active among the Jewish proletariat to each other, except for parties such as the old "Poalei Tziyon" of Misnk, who have nothing in common with real proletarian ideology, we iinf that all of them - the Bund, to S.S. [Sionist Socialists] and Poalei Tziyon, are equally focused on the everything related to relations of production, all of the have a true proletarian understanding of the class struggle and the socialist question, but in their national concepts there is no relation between their progressivism [in labor issues] and their reactionaryism [in national policy]. While the national program of Poalei Tziyon is truly progressive and proletarian, the program of the Zionist socialists reveals all the soured characteristics, and the Bund program is actually reactionary -- absolutely primitive in its construction. And the same fact, that the masses of Jewish workers today follow the Bund, emphasizes again, that as long as the national conflicts in which the Jewish proletariat is involved have not matured, the most primitive modes of adaptation are still popular with the masses.

The future favors the progressive program, while the unsuccessful programs are doomed to failure by the very process of national conflicts, even if the parties that support them seem to be flourishing at present.

If there is a program of some proletarian party that is accepted by wide circles of the proletariat, that still does not mean that that program in itself expresses the really progressive ideology of the proletariat, based on study of class relations.

The historical mission of the proletarian class is certainly defined and stamped with its egregious unique proletarian character. However the workers who make up this class are in no way monolithic, and exhibit significant deviations from the true proletarian type. In the initial period  of their social appearance, the workers still maintain reactionary traces from the days when they were members of other low classes of society. The proletarian who today works to create the property of society and struggles against the capitalist regime, was formerly part of the progenitive petty bourgeoisie, and a minor person of property himself, and after impoverishment, he became "freed of worldly goods" and was temporarily, until becoming a proletarian, part of that intermediate social class called: the masses undergoing proletarianization.

Thus, the psyche of the worker initially retains traces of petty bourgeois ideology, and the ideology of the masses undergoing proletarianization, employment seekers, who need work before anything else -- and only gradually, as the social conflicts develop, does a proletarian ideology accumulate over these layers, an ideology of class struggle and collectivism, and this progressive ideology overcomes the reactionary sediments only with the greatest efforts and destroys them. Only thus dies it become clear, how reactionary ideas  and anti-proletarian movements such as Christian Socialism, Anarchism and even the Black Hundreds can achieve wide success, if only temporarily  among the proletarian masses.

And here again we see the most significant results of the fundamental difference between the relative simplicity of the social conflict and the national conflict. Often it is said, and with justice, that this or that propaganda or preaching obscures proletarian self consciousness. This obscured vision is rooted in the many-branched psyche of the worker, which we have just described. in the traces of former classes included in that psyche, and quite often proletarian consciousness is obscured against the background of national conflicts, which are themselves often difficult to analyze. Indeed, social preaching may also obscure class consciousness-- that, for example, is true of anarchist demagogeury. However this last is much more successful among the unemployed and among the self-employed, with a lot of individualistic training, while the masses of heavy industrial workers reject anarchist propaganda because of class consciousness, which crystallizes in a stychic manner under the pressure of prolonged social conflicts, while the nationalist demagoguery is generally much more widely successful among actual workers, who along with hatred of the exploiters and vague concepts of socialism, easily develop a most sinister national hate.

Given all the above, we should not be surprised if, in the same Jewish proletarian program we find simultaneously progressive proletarian elements, when discussing its social aspects, and also the most reactionary elements, petty bourgeois, when considering the national aspects. We should not be surprised by this, if we remember that the subject is the Jewish question, the most complex national question in the world. A correct solution of the question, a solution that will include complete adaptation to the real trends of the prolonged conflicts that create this question, requires a great investment of energy. Therefore the initial forms of reactions of the Jewish proletarian parties to the national conflict are most primitive and reactionary, resting not on true proletarian progressive foundations in the psyche of the Jewish worker, but on the unsuccessful strata in that psyche, whether petty bourgeois or other intermediary strata that have not developed sufficiently to be proletarian.

Firstly, what is contained in the national question for the general proletariat? How could it involve a prolonged conflict between the development of its forces of production and the conditions of production of the particular national aggregate to which it belongs?

The proletariat must always be viewed from two aspects. First it is the entire mass of workers who labor to produce social wealth, and second, it is the class that has a certain policy and war with other classes. The worker, inasmuch as he is a worker, is interested only in wage increases and improved working conditions. To that end he must first and foremost secure his place of work. Because of the place of work he enters into competition with others, likewise seeking employment. To the extent that he must compete for a job, he is still no different from the generality of the masses undergoing proletarianization to which he belongs, and still has not assumed the face of the real proletarian class. This last he acquires only after has secured his job and enters into the struggle with capital for improvement of the conditions of his employment. At that time the job becomes a strategic base. Instead of competing interests and a tough war with his proletarian brothers, proletarian solidarity takes the stage. That doesn't mean that this solidarity is completely guaranteed against the recidivism of competition. On the contrary, the danger of losing the job and being turned out is always lurking in ambush for the worker and often forces him to again go to war against his brothers, and enter into competition with them. Again the worker appears before us as a potential reservist soldier, again those of his interests connected with securing or keeping his place of work come to the fore-- the interests of surplus population undergoing proletarianization. Thus we see the proletarian sprit arising from the crucible of suffering that the the cruel struggle for work, for sustaining life itself, arises but gradually, in zigzags, with frequent dips and plateaus. Only with great labor will class consciousness be shaped.

The worker himself, bonded, because of his needs to his place of work, still has not arisen to use the job as a strategic base - he cannot carry on any policy, he does not fulfill any historic function. In a stychic matter many things will befall him, fateful and significant, but he does not decide his fate. And while the proletarians are spoken of as a class, his class interests exclude the possibility of struggle between workers for jobs, and they gather unbroken class solidarity and include the struggle against the capitalist regime. The interests of the worker overlap those of the job only insofar as he has not yet been cut off entirely from the general masses undergoing proletarianization, to which he belonged previously, and to which he is always liable to return. And those interests of the the proletariat-- "proletariat" meaning a class, as a unique social force-- are involved only with its strategic base, in the generality of conditions in which his struggle is carried out. The development of the productive powers of the masses undergoing proletarianization requires that they find a place of work. The development of the productive powers of the proletariat requires  requires a normal strategic base for free and successful class struggle. The interests of the strategic base are not less "material" or more idealistic in any way than those of the place of work. However, the first are the interests of an entire social class, and moreover, they are the advanced interests of  a progressive class, while the latter are the interests of individuals, and in the best case group interests. On the basis of the interests of the work place, there appears not only personal competition between workers, but also nationalist competition. The development of the strategic base removes the competition, both personal and national, but in the absence of work it is impossible to carry on the struggle. As long as there is some group of workers that is not free of the national competition, it is not possible to successfully wage class war, and the strategic base of that group is defective.

That is, even though the proletarian class, within class theory, is quite far from national competition, nonetheless it can significantly influence its interests. While among the petty bourgeoisie and the masses undergoing proletarianization, which give rise to the proletariat, national conflicts assume the character of a national struggle, among the proletariat they occur as a national problem without any antipathy. However, the national question still exists for the proletariat no less than it does for other classes in the nation. If the development of its forces of production, that is, the development of its class conflict, is limited by the abnormal conditions of its strategic base, then the national problem arises before it and it gains national self-consciousness. Nonetheless it is distinguished markedly from the national self-consciousness of the other classes. Among the closed classes, that maintained the character of a sect, national self-consciousness is separate from class consciousness, and both work independently. This phenomenon can be found, for example, among feudal lords of manors, who continue to exist in some most backward countries, the are --   people-Russians, "Pure Russians" and they are - nobles. They have two natures. As Russians, their concern is for the entire nation. As nobles, they are willing to oppress the entire nation. Among the middle class, including the middle and petty bourgeoisie and the the masses undergoing proletarianization, there is a total lack of class consciousness. It is buried in national consciousness. Class consciousness is frowned upon in those classes, as a harmful concept, or as a threat to "national unity." All these classes are nationalistic. Only among the proletariat is the national problem related to the strategic base, to those needs of the class struggle, that are the basis for its class consciousness. Among the proletariat of oppressed peoples the conditions of the strategic base are somewhat defective because of the oppression, and the class consciousness is tightly connected with the national consciousness. The class war assumes, subjectively as well as objectively, a national character.

It is important to note one characteristic in this regard. Since the national interests of the proletariat have nothing in common with national war, the aggressive character is totally alien to proletarian nationalism. This nationalism is totally circumstantial and negative in its character, and is nothing more than the need for normalization of the strategic basis. It grows out of negative factors, from a pathological anomaly. That doesn't mean it is devoid of national content. While nationalism of the progressive class grows objectively from negativistic fundamentals, it nonetheless fills with positive content. There is no other class in the nation that gives, or could ever give, a national program that is so realistic as that which is being developed by the Proletariat. However the characteristics of this nationalism and its negative origins are so special, that they can only be understood with effort. Leaving aside the bourgeois nationalists, who have no faith in the national spirit of the proletariat, which doesn't need their faith anyhow - even many proleterian ideologues -- like the vast majority of the Jewish ISKRA [ISKRA ("The Spark" in Russian), was a publication of the Social Democratic party, originally run primarily by Bolsheviks including Lenin, but later by Mensheviks, which condemned federative nationalism such as that advocated by the Bund, as well as Zionism]  people, do not see any positive elements in proletarian nationalism, and therefore they are naive enough to classify it as ordinary reactionaryism.

For others, who are nationalists, the same error is made in a totally distorted way. There are theoreticians who, seeing that the bases of proletarian nationalism are objectively negative, and without discerning that this product of negative origins takes on the subjective form of a must realistic and positive program, try to advocate nationalism, out of shame. Instead of historical consciousness they obtain the consciousness of melancholy, "We regretfully are forced to develop a national program," "we would have liked to assimilate, but, unfortunately, we are forced to remain Jews" - this sad refrain is often heard in the propaganda of the "Zionist - Socialists" (S.S.).

There is nothing here except isolated and exceptional revelations of failed thought. The proletariat appreciates and recognizes equally anything that brings about development of its productive forces, and is equally opposed to anything that inhibits these forces. Therefore the proletariat finds equally loathsome obscuration of class consciousness and obscuration of national consciousness.  We are equally proud to declare: We are are Social Democrats, and we are Jews. Our national consciousness is certainly founded on negative elements. Indeed, it has a liberating characteristic. Were we the proletariat of a free nation, that is not oppressed and is not an oppressor, we would not pay any attention to questions of national life. Even now, when we have obtained national consciousness under the pressure of national struggles, we are far less preoccupied with problems of spiritual culture,  national existence and unity etc. than we are with the economic and social question: realistic nationalism, devoid of cultural admixture - is our foundation..

The national questions for the proletariat is the result of the conflict between the need for development of its productive forces, that is, for class war, and the conditions of the strategic base. The strategic base of the Jewish proletariat is unsatisfactory both economically and policy-wise. The economic struggle of the Jewish worker is most successful during the busy season, when employers must make concessions, in order not to waste time. On the other hand, the employers recoup their losses in the dead season, and until the next season the fruits of economic struggle are lost, and the Jewish worker is again forced into the self-same struggle in order to regain the shaky results achieved previously. The Jewish strategic base is even less satisfactory from the point of view of the political influence of the struggle of the Jewish proletariat. Since the Jewish proletariat is almost totally engaged in producing consumer goods, and is not active in even one of the primary stages of economic processes, it doesn't hold in its hand even one of the strings of the infrastructure of the national economy. That is, the influence of the Jewish proletariat on general life necessarily remains very circumscribed/ It is incapably of stopping the entire mechanism of the economy at one blow, as the railway workers workers could do. It is exploited not by large scale capitalism, but only by medium scale capitalism, which likewise has only a minor role in production. While the Jewish proletarian can paralyze the activity of medium scale capitalism, activity which it produces, it is unable to awaken any tremors in the land. Even in its most just demands, it is incapable of defending itself, if it is not supported by other workers, who are more fortunate, among the nationalities that surround it. It is unable to bring about even the slightest improvement in fields that relate to its special national needs, which are of no concern of others.   This fact increases the feelings of proletarian solidarity within it, and makes it even more open to revolutionary ideals. The class contradictions within Jewish society are also relatively open. Firstly, because of the defective concentration of capital, secondly, because the Jewish middle bourgeois, which is most oppressed, even more oppressed that that of the Lithuanians the Armenians etc, is itself oppositionistic and politically it supports the proletariat somewhat. True, it is not support to be trusted. However, until recently it bore in silence all the propaganda taunts of the proletarians and helped the Bund and others modestly with money. Now, it is true, it looks to profits to be realized from its pact with the Kadets, and it has badly "betrayed" the Jewish proletarian parties. All these conditions cause the Jewish proletarian to be forced to attach itself like a tail to the huge workers parties in the country -- and it is forced to compensate itself with nice words, sometimes inflated to the point of absurdity, against the background of lack of real class power. On this soil their grow unbearably strange exaggerations, that every serious and analytical social democrat finds repulsive.

This fake comism [perhaps a neologism derived from "comic" in contrast to "tragic" or a misprint for 'communism'] hides tragic contradictions. The Jewish proletariat needs the revolution more than anyone else  It is most taken by democratization of society. The terrible national enslavement, the decisive exploitation by miserable Jewish capital, which all the more exhibitionist because of its misery -- and beyond that: a high cultural level on average and the high-strong nature of the Jewish worker, who is an ancient city dweller, a son of the "people of the book" -- all these create a sea of revolutionary energy, enthusiastic devotion, seeking an outlet. This revolutionary hypertrophy that is bound by the narrowness of the strategic base, takes on caricatured forms. The pathology of surplus energy, that is the problem of the Jewish proletariat, that is the source of its misery.

Prometheus bound, ready with all the heat of his helpless fury to pull out the feathers of the eagle pecking out his heart - that is the symbol of the Jewish proletariat... [the ellipsis is in the Hebrew version]

[The parts numbered as IV to VI in the "Borochov Archives" version do not seem to correspond to those sections in the original, but are rather extracted from other sections. Each section of the original is much longer than the version that has been put on the Web in the "Borochov Archives" - the excerpts and approximate placement in the original are preserved below]   


[This section is five pages long in the original. Ellipses are added to indicate missing material]

... In the efforts to solve the problems connected with the national conflict, the Jewish proletariat has undergone definite stages of thought and activity. Its reactions have become steadily more complex, more coordinated and more revolutionary. At first the Jewish worker attempted to solve his national problem in the framework of the conditions that had given rise to it. Only at a later stage did he realize the need for a radical change in the conditions themselves. Each one of the stages through which the proletariat passed was of significance, for each was anticipating the following, more revolutionary stage. It is the Jewish proletariat that has developed the most coordinated program for the solution of the national problem, namely, the program of the Jewish Social-Democratic Workers Party, Poalei Tziyon. ....

Our ultimate aim, our maximum program, is socialism—the socialization of the means of production. The only way to achieve socialism is through the class struggle of the Jews within the ranks of worldwide Social-Democracy. On this we shall not dwell.....

Our immediate aim, our minimum program, is Zionism. The necessity for a territory in the case of the Jews results from the unsatisfactory economic strategic base of the Jewish proletariat. The anomalous state of the Jewish people will disappear as soon as the conditions of production prevailing in Jewish life are done away with. Only when the Jews find themselves in the primary levels of production will their proletariat hold in its hands the fate of the economy of the country. When Jews participate in those sectors of economic life wherein the social fabric of the whole country is woven, then will the organization of the Jewish proletariat become free and not reliant on the proletariat of the neighboring peoples. The Jewish workers’ class struggle will no longer be directed against a powerless bourgeoisie, as in the Diaspora, but against a mighty bourgeoisie which organizes the production of the country. The class struggle will enable the proletariat to wield the necessary social, economic, and political influence.....

Our point of departure is the development of the class struggle of the Jewish proletariat. Our point of view excludes a general program of the Jewish people as a whole. The anomalies of the entire Jewish nation are of interest to us only as an objective explanation of the contradictions in the life of the Jewish proletariat. We defend our own interests, that is, the interests of the Jewish worker. We also defend our cultural needs and economic needs, wherever we are. We fight for the political, the national, and the ordinary human rights along with the general demands of the Social-Democratic minimum program. The national demands enter automatically into our minimum program.

We will consider the Jewish question fully solved and its anomalies wholly removed (insofar as it is possible within the framework of bourgeois society) only when territorial autonomy for the Jewish people shall have been attained and the entire nation shall constitute a relatively unified national economic organism.

But colonizing a territory is a prolonged process, during which we must also defend our needs in the Diaspora. We must assume that a large part of the Jewish people, including a part of the proletariat, will always remain in the Diaspora as an ordinary national minority. For that reason we include in our program, along with territorial demands, the demand for the maximum protection of our national needs in the Diaspora. Explicitly, this means national political autonomy for the Jews in all Diaspora lands.

National autonomy is not a radical solution of the Jewish problem, and, therefore, cannot remove the anomalies of the Jewish economic strategic base. However, it provides the Jewish proletariat with the necessary political forms. It serves to place the proletariat in the political arena face to face with the Jewish bourgeoisie. But even if it is incapable of making a radical change and cannot give the Jewish proletariat an efficient weapon in the struggle against the prevailing form of capitalism, we must still remember that national political autonomy is the maximum obtainable in the Diaspora. The shortcomings of national political autonomy emanate from the abnormal conditions of Diaspora life.

National political autonomy, even with all the democratic guarantees possible, remains only a mere palliative. Without territorial autonomy it will not lessen the national oppression of the Jewish people, will not change the Jewish social structure, and will not set great forces in motion. Jews, however, will be granted a normal representation which will serve to make an end to shameful backdoor politics. It will be a more powerful unifying force among the Jewish masses; it will provide the Jewish nationality with a proper financial apparatus; and what is most important, it will provide them with a political education, will teach them even in the Diaspora to create and shape their own destiny.

This achievement is small in comparison with what can be obtained in an autonomous territory, but it is important when compared with what exists at present. We know how limited our civil equality will be in practice; yet we demand legal civil equality. We know that our national equality in the Diaspora will in reality be very circumscribed; nevertheless, we demand full national equality without any legal limitations. Life itself will see to it that we do not gain too much, so we must do everything within our power to get the optimum out of national equality.

An examination of the growth of democracy will reveal the stages in the attainment of national political autonomy. Just as socialism will result from processes implicit in the concentration of capital and will be established by means of the class struggle, just as the fall of autocracy will result from processes inherent in the capitalistic development of Russian society and will be precipitated by the class struggle—just so will the realization of national political autonomy result from processes inherent in the development of society along nationality lines and will come about through the class struggle of the proletariat and its allies. However, our most important national demand is territorial autonomy. It is being realized by means of processes inherent in Jewish immigration. In the course of its migration, the Jewish people does not degenerate, nor does it resurrect itself; it merely transforms itself.


The most general law governing migration in the capitalistic era is the following: the direction of migratory labor depends upon the direction of migratory capital. This law was propounded by Marx. In order to deduce the real facts concerning general and Jewish migration, it will be necessary to describe the social relationship between the entrepreneur and the laborer.

Language is the medium of contact, constituting a national bond. In small-scale industries, the entrepreneur and the laborers are in close propinquity; for there the entrepreneur not only organizes and distributed the jobs, but frequently also works shoulder to shoulder with the employees. Mutual understanding of questions pertaining to the functioning of the industry thus develops through another national bond. But in large industrial establishments, a complex hierarchy of managers and officials separates the entrepreneur capitalist from the laborers. Therefore, in large-scale production there is no necessary national tie between entrepreneur and worker.

Similarly, in the filed of distribution the language is merely a means of communication between the seller and the buyer. The wholesale merchant is separated from the consumer by brokers and other intermediaries. To him, therefore, language and other national ties are of little significance. The retailer, however, is closely allied with the consumer by language and national customs. Large industry and business are international, while petty industry (and a part of middle industry as well) bears a clearly defined national character. The latter’s sphere of activities is determined by the national market, and its sphere of exploitation reaches only the workers within national boundaries. (As far as Jewish industry is concerned, this particular analysis has to be modified; for the Jews find themselves in a foreign economy. They do not use their national language in business but generally assume the language of the land. However, wherever they live in compact masses, Jews do not assume the foreign language very readily.) The petty merchant is very close to the consumer and is therefore liable to national boycott, but the large capitalist can very easily hide his nationality under a hierarchy of intermediaries.

This fundamental fact—the existence of national ties between the entrepreneur, worker, and consumer in petty industry, and the absence of them in large industry—is even more obvious during the migration of capital and labor. Capital and labor of petty industry always migrate together and retain their national character in their new domicile.

The migration of labor is never directed to countries where there exists a large labor reserve in the peasantry. Countries such as Germany, France, and Italy will never be countries of immigration as long as their capitalistic development follows the present trend.

In determining the direction of migration we must also consider the differences between the level of economic development and the level of cultural and political development. In the European democratic countries, all parts of the population enjoy the benefits of a high cultural and political level of life, regardless of sharp economic differences. If we want to apply to the phenomenon of mass migration the law according to which migration tends in the direction of least resistance, we must determine the resistances and all the factors connected with them. We then arrive at the following important conclusions. Of two countries acceptable for immigrations, that country which promises the higher economic level affords the line of least resistance. Of two countries with identical economic levels, that country which promises the higher cultural and political level affords the line of least resistance.

The causes of emigration may lie in a prolonged economic depression or oppression. In the capitalistic era, the proletarianizing masses emigrate because of persistent economic pressure. The landless peasant masses migrate to new countries, where pools of unused capital accumulate because of the absence of reserve labor forces. Accumulation of capital is possible only in places where there are good prospects for its development. The cultural and political standards of a country are of great importance in determining the influx of capital. For that reason the ruined peasant population of Europe will not migrate into politically backward countries. The migration of European peasantry is tending and will continue in the direction of the democratic countries in the New World.

The outstanding national character of the lower middle class is evident in the process of immigration. The peasants concentrate into national blocs in their newly found homes. Italians, Germans, and other nationalities each make up independent settlements. Along with the Italian peasants, who constitute a mass of small consumers, there immigrate also Italian petty merchants, artisans, and professionals. This is also the case with every national group of immigrants.

Only international investment capital, the transfer of which gives direction to immigration, is perfectly free of any national character. (One other group bears no national character in immigration. It includes the dregs of society, such as professional thieves, white slave traffickers, and gamblers. International hooliganism knows no nation or fatherland. Its favorite centers of immigration are the harbor cities, the gold and diamond districts, and all places where it is possible to fish in troubled waters.)

Of an entirely different character is the immigration of the urban petty industrial population. In the case of this element, the migration of wage-labor depends on the small capitalist. The urban petty industrial population follows the entrepreneurs of its nation. No matter how acute the need for proletarianization grows to be, it will not be filled unless conditions force the petty capitalists to emigrate. On the surface, it would seem that economic ruin is sufficient to cause the emigration of small capitalists. This, however, is erroneous; for a ruined capitalist loses his class status. In order for capitalists to emigrate, there must be a constant economic threat or continual persecution. In the case of Jewish emigration, pogroms, civil persecution, and general insecurity play a decisive role. If the new country of refuge is economically suitable, if Jewish capital may be utilized to advantage and production enhanced, emigration of the impoverished masses increases and the success of the first pioneers of Jewish capital brings additional numbers of Jewish entrepreneurs and workers. Mass immigration is thus precipitated and gains impetus from new pogroms and persecutions. (It must be noted, too, that for petty capital the cultural and political development of the country is of much less significance than it is for large capitalistic ventures.)

Until recently, international capital was directed to the newly developing countries. The large inflow of capital into those countries accelerated the development of the forces of production, exploited natural resources, and created a demand for labor. For that reason, an intensive migration of the proletarianizing peasantry of many nations has been directed toward the new countries. Since a developing economy ruled by international capital created a need for consumers’ and service goods, there was room for Jewish immigration. Jews followed the general stream of world migration.

This situation was the case until recently. Lately, new tendencies began to appear. The natural resources, for the development of which a great deal of capital has been expended, became limited. Wage reductions became common, and capitalists’ profits diminished. International capital began to look for new investment channels and turned to financing agricultural projects. At the same time, workers who had been too compactly settled were unable to find employment. Thus a break occurred in world immigration, and even larger groups of immigrants turned to agrarian countries.

It is necessary to point out two characteristics of agricultural colonization in undeveloped countries. These characteristics arise from the fact that colonization takes place upon the initiative of government institutions which encourage loans in order to improve conditions in the grain trade and to provide live stock and machinery on a long term credit basis. Italian, German, and Slavic peasants, who formerly immigrated into the United States, Australia, and South Africa as unskilled workers, at present go to Argentina, Brazil, and Canada where they become independent homesteaders on government lands, with an inventory for which they can pay on the installment plan. Even though these homesteaders appear to be independent, they nevertheless find themselves in the clutches of investment capital. Because of long-term credit, loans from international financiers do not seem so oppressive and do not ruin the framers. In agrarian countries the farmers cannot grow products to meet their household needs; they must grow crops for the market. They must pay their debts and must therefore exchange their products for money. The new countries dump large quantities of grain on the world market, and the resulting competition eliminates those elements which cannot maintain the proper standard of farming. On the other hand, long term credit helps the farmer to entrench himself in his holdings and keeps him for proletarianization. In countries which are predominantly agricultural there is no place for individual large farms because of the lack of laborers. Instead of offering one’s services to the landowner, one has the opportunity to acquire land for oneself. Even the intensification of agriculture does not tend to ruin the farmer, because the farmers cooperate in the introduction of machines, new methods of fertilization, and land irrigation. In this, the government is of great help. Along with the farmer of a particular nationality, there enter into the land petty merchants of the same nationality who satisfy the limited needs of the farming population.

From what has been said, it is possible to draw important conclusions concerning the tendencies of Jewish migration. Since the stream of world migration has turned in another direction, Jewish migration must also find new channels. But are predominantly agricultural countries adapted to Jewish immigration?

To answer this question we must first distinguish between stychic immigration and planned colonization.

It is clear that stychic, unregulated Jewish immigration cannot direct itself to new countries in order to serve commercial and industrial functions or to take up agriculture. The former task is impossible, because in those countries there is no place for petty capital. Small-scale production and petty commerce do not reach the world market. If the Jewish masses do not find a local market for their production there, they have no good reason for immigrating into such countries. It is true that the Jews can make a determined attempt to engage in farming, but such attempts are doomed to failure. Jewish farmers would have to compete in the world market and would surely lose. As city-bred people, the Jews are unable to compete with Italian and other peasants who have an agricultural background. The geographical location is unimportant. Jewish workers may live in Africa and the Italians in America—they will still compete in the world market. For this reason, all attempts at Jewish land colonization to date have been a failure and have borne merely a philanthropic character.

Equally unsuccessful will be the attempts at planned colonization in such lands. The organization of such colonization must, from its very inception, assume the character of a large-scale financial enterprise. It will have to compete in the world market and will swiftly be led to bankruptcy. If, on the other hand, it should attempt to engage in large scale manufacturing, it will fail either because of comparatively low productivity or because of the relatively higher price of Jewish labor.

Territorialism, if it is to continue to be a revolutionary movement within the Jewish people, must find support in the spontaneous process of Jewish life. Territorialism does not signify a mere stychic migration of Jews, but a stychically concentrated immigration. The analysis of territorialism may be considered as complete only when one can point to the land for immigration. Territorialism apart from a particular territory is Utopian.

The above determined laws with regard to the processes of immigration and emigration have led us to the conclusion that Jewish immigration is being excluded from countries of wide land colonization and from countries of large industrial investments. The worldwide stream of immigration increasingly tends toward agricultural countries, which offer free land to immigrants. The Jews, in the era of capitalistic competition, cannot at once turn to farming. The economic activities of the Jewish immigrants tend to lose their industrial and commercial character and to be transferred from the final levels of the process of production to the primary levels—to the basic industries and farming. This transfer, however, cannot occur at once.

For that reason, Jewish migration differs from the general stream of migration and must seek for itself entirely different channels. Everything that tends to isolate Jewish life helps to make Jews more nationally conscious. Jewish immigration assumes a national character, and this spirit finds expression in the spread of a national ideology of emigration.

The need for emigration of the Jewish nation is merely one of the forces leading to its rehabilitation. When planned immigration will assume a national character, it will fuse with other aspirations for rebirth. Abstract territorialism is an incomplete ideology of national emancipation; the whole and synthetic form is Zionism.

Jewish immigration is slowly tending to divert itself to a country where petty Jewish capital and labor may be utilized in such forms of production as will serve as a transition from an urban to an agricultural economy and from the production of consumers’ goods to more basic forms of industry. The country into which Jews will immigrate will not be highly industrial nor predominantly agricultural, but rather semi-agricultural. Jews alone will migrate there, separated from the general stream of immigration. The country will have no attraction for immigrants from other nations.

This land will be the only one available to the Jews; and of all countries available for immigrants of all lands, this country will provide the line of greatest resistance. It will be a country of low cultural and political development. Big capital will hardly find use for itself there, while Jewish petty and middle capital will find a market for its products in both this country and its environs. The land of stychically concentrated Jewish immigration will be Palestine.

The immigration of the Jews into Palestine will differ considerably from their previous wanderings. Formerly, they had to adapt themselves to the needs of the native population; their primary function was to satisfy the native consumers’ needs or, as in the case of the United States, the needs of a mixed population which consists more of immigrants than of natives.

In Palestine, Jewish immigrants for the first time not only will aim to satisfy the needs of the native population, but will also produce for the external market of the surrounding countries of the Mediterranean, and in time even for the world market. Until now, Jews have always been dependent upon the native populations in the lands of the Diaspora. The organization of Jewish labor was not self-sufficient but was determined by the nature of the relationships that existed among the native population. The Jewish welfare in the Diaspora was always dependent upon the "usefulness" of the Jews to the ruling nationality. The needs of the natives, their ability to pay, and the rivalry between Jewish merchants and professionals and the corresponding groups of the native population—all of these factors helped bring about a narrowed field for Jewish economy in the Diaspora. Aside from these limitations the Jews, both in their old places of residence and in the new lands of immigration, began to be displaced and became pauperized; they became superfluous. Compulsory isolation became their fate; national oppression and persecutions took place. The chief cause for this one-sided dependence of the Jews on the native population lay in the expatriation of the Jewish people.

With the migration into Palestine the situation will change radically. The welfare and functions of Jewish immigrants in Palestine will depend not on the native population but on the foreign market, which will for a long time be able to absorb the products of Palestine because of the favorable location of the Mediterranean. Jewish labor will encounter national competition neither on the part of the native population nor on the part of the new immigrants. In Palestine, the Jews will perform the functions which serve as a transition from the production of consumers’ goods to the creation of the means of production.

As to the question of how many Jewish immigrants Palestine can absorb, it is easy to see that the absorptive capacity of the land depends on the degree of capitalistic development in the neighboring countries.

If, for instance, Egypt becomes a land with increasing exports, it is evident that the imports to Egypt will grow as well. Since the Jewish settlers in Palestine will be interested in the neighboring foreign market, large-scale capitalistic enterprises will develop among the Jews. The tendencies of Jewish immigration will be affected by those of the world market insofar as they affect the southeastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. We do not assert that Jewish immigration into Palestine will always progress uniformly; from time to time it may fluctuate. Also, because of economic crises or political complications, there may be a temporary exodus from Palestine. But the general tendency will undoubtedly be a continual growth of Jewish immigration into Palestine.

Those who think that such a radical transformation of Jewish life as territorialism implies can occur without a bitter struggle, without cruelty and injustices, without suffering for innocent and guilty alike, are Utopianists. Such revolutions are not recorded in ink with high sounding phrases; they are written in sweat, tears, and blood.....

We have investigated the tendency towards the concentration of Jewish immigration and towards the formation of a relatively economically independent Jewish community in Palestine. The masses of the Jews in the Diaspora, who do not take a far-seeing view of their emigration needs, will join in our Zionist endeavors because of their immediate needs. The greater the interest of the surrounding nations in the radical solution of the Jewish problem and the greater the national consciousness and organization of the Jews in the Diaspora in response to oppression and isolation, the more energetically will organized Zionism impress itself upon this stychic process and the more desirable will its results be...

The broadening and consolidation of Jewish economic and cultural positions in Palestine will proceed at a rapid pace along with the above mentioned processes. Parallel with the growth of economic independence will come the growth of political independence. The ideal of political autonomy for the Jews will be consummated by political territorial autonomy in the land of Israel.

Political territorial autonomy in Palestine is the ultimate aim of Zionism. For proletarian Zionism, this is also a step toward socialism.


Because proletarian Zionism has recognized the stychic concentration of Jewish immigration into Palestine, it has completely shaken off all former Utopian concepts with regard to the realization of territorial autonomy.

Immigration to Palestine rises above those measures with which Utopianists usually approach the question of Palestine. Some of us may revere Palestine as our former fatherland. Others may consider Palestine as a proper center of immigration because of its geographic proximity to centers of Jewish population. Still others may imagine that the ideology of the movement, of national emancipation, includes a special preference for Palestine. Others, on the other hand, may believe that Zionism is guided by purely practical calculations. All these differences of opinion have no bearing on our analysis. Our Palestinism is not a matter of principle, because it has nothing to do with old traditions. Nor is our Palestinism purely practical; for we do not recognize the existence of other fit territories to choose from. The trend of thought of the practical adherents of Palestine is as follows: a territory is needed; Palestine is a possible territory; it is the best territory under the circumstances; therefore, Palestine. Our line of thought, however, is: there are migratory processes inherent in the Jewish life; Palestine is the future land for the stychic waves of immigration; consequently we will have territorial autonomy in Palestine. The practical adherents of Palestine assert that theoretically they are territorialists, while practically they are for Palestine. With us, however, theoretical territorialism is not to be distinguished from concrete territorialism; for concentrated Jewish immigration will direct itself toward Palestine and not toward any other territory. We do not claim that Palestine is the sole or best territory; we merely indicate that Palestine is the territory where territorial autonomy will be obtained. Our Palestinism is neither theoretical nor practical, but rather predictive.

...Thus we have liquidated the "search for a territory." This task we entrusted to the inherent process of Jewish immigration. Our task is not to find a territory, but to obtain territorial political autonomy in Palestine...

....The general task of the territorialist movement is to regulate the stychic processes, especially the immigration processes, which lead finally to territorial autonomy. As a matter of fact, we have two territorial movements: bourgeois Zionism and proletarian Zionism. What then is the role of each in Jewish life?

In every stychic process, it is necessary to distinguish between two factors, even though the distinction is difficult: creative factors and liberating factors.

The development and accumulation of the forces of production, the creation of new combinations of material forces, the growth of capitalism—these are the creative factors in modern society. The creation of free conditions for the development of the productive forces, the growth of democracy—these are the liberating factors of modern social evolution. Both the creative and the liberating factors are stychic, even though they both are subject to regulation.

The bourgeoisie regulates the creative factors of the stychic process; the proletariat regulates the liberating factors. The development of capitalism is carried on by the bourgeoisie; but it is the struggles of the proletariat that bring about the growth of democracy.

.....The sphere of activity of the bourgeoisie cannot be precisely delimited from the sphere of activity of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie is partly interested in the growth of democracy and aids in the process, but its role is insignificant in comparison with that of the proletariat. On the other hand, in whatever concerns the development of the forces of production and the capitalistic evolution of society, the organizing role belongs to the bourgeoisie. Although the proletariat is interested in the development of forces of production, its sphere of activity lies outside of it, and it puts forth no particular demands therein. When the dictatorship of the proletariat shall have been attained, labor will organize all work. Until then, the proletariat does not interfere, as a class, in the regulation of the creative forces. Thus, it is not the task of the proletariat to be concerned with digging canals or building railroads. Here the proletariat puts forth no demands, because these are the creative factors of capitalistic evolution. But whenever it does interfere in the technical organization of the work, it is for the sake of obtaining better working and living conditions. In the case of colonization, one finds an identical situation. Colonization methods are not the concern of the proletariat in the capitalistic era; for they are a part of the creative area of capitalistic activity, a part of the organization of production. The proletariat, however, may demand some regulation of the property relationships and other legal arrangements in the colonies; for these are in its proper sphere—the liberating one.

When we pass to those stychic processes in which territorialism is realized, we must again distinguish between creative and liberating factors and thus clarify the respective roles of the bourgeoisie and of the proletariat.....

The creative elements in the process consist in the accumulation of capital and labor in Palestine, in the exploitation of the natural resources of the land, in technological development, and in the general development of the forces of production. To regulate all these is chiefly the task of bourgeois Zionism. Immigration into Palestine must be properly guided, and colonization must be supervised......

To regulate the stychic Jewish immigration into Palestine means to facilitate the entry of capital and labor and to utilize those forces in the most economical and rational manner possible. This must be the realistic direction of the activity of the Zionist Congress.......

The Jewish proletariat lives in the Diaspora, and there it struggles for its daily needs. Among these needs is the freedom of immigration into Palestine—the inviolability of the right of entry there. Objective processes lead the Jewish proletariat to Palestine, and in Palestine it must struggle bitterly. It would be easier to attain freedom in Palestine if life in the Diaspora were more bearable; and the stronger our political power in Palestine, the more respected will our rights be in Diaspora. There is an integration of Diaspora and Zion. The maximum we can obtain in the Diaspora is national political autonomy. In Palestine, however, the maximum is territorial and political autonomy. Which we shall obtain first does not matter. National political autonomy in the Diaspora is not only one of the means by which territorial autonomy in Palestine can be obtained, but is also an independent goal. These are two aims that are united by the historic process which unfolds itself simultaneously in all its breadth in Diaspora and in Palestine.......

Utopianism always suffers because it strives to ignore historical process. Utopianism wishes by means of human endeavor to create something not inherent in social life. Fatalism, on the other hand, assumes that the effective participation of human will is impossible with regard to these historical processes, and thus it drifts passively with the stream. Utopianism knows of no historical processes. The Utopianists fear to mention the phrase "historical processes"; for they see in the so-called historical process fatalism and passivity. The fatalists, on the other hand, fear the conscious interference with the historical process as a dangerous artificiality. The fatalists forget that history is made by men who follow definite and conscious aims and purposes only when those aims and purposes are well adapted to the historical necessities of social life.

We ask, "What role can our will, our consciousness, play in the historical processes of Jewish life?" To the conscious interference of human will there must be added another factor, that of organization. Organization is not a mere sum of individual efforts, but rather a collective social force. Along with the historical social tendencies we must introduce planning. To regulate historical processes means to facilitate and accelerate their progress, to conserve social energy, and to obtain the optimum results from the labor put forth.

Sources: Zionism and Israel Information Center. Translation copyright 2005 by Ami Isseroff. Reproduced by permission.