populism

Rebecca Hill hillx018 at maroon.tc.umn.edu
Fri Feb 3 23:17:25 MST 1995


  While I am not expert on the Russian populists, as Alex Trotter has
clearly indicated, I believe that this particular pamphlet, distributed by
Narodnaya Volya speaks for itself:

Good people, Honest Ukrainian people! Life has become hard in the Ukraine,
and it keeps getting harder. The damned police beat you, the landowners
devour you, the kikes, the dirty Judases rob you. People in the Ukraine
suffer most of all fromthe kikes. Who has seized the land, the woodlands,
the taverns? The kikes. Whom does the peasant beg with tears in his eyes to
let him near his own land? the kikes. Wherever you look, whatever you
touch, everywhere the kikes. The kike curses the peasant, cheats him,
drinks his blood. The kikes make life unbearable.

 According to Lucy Dawidowicz, this pamphlet represented the official
position of Narodnaya in 1881.

  As for Marx - who was not, contrary to popular opinion, a Jew - he is not
immune to criticism in this regard.
Moreover, while some Jews were populists, this does not mean that the
populists are immune from criticism. Many radical Jews of this period
adopted a consciously "cosmopolitan" stance, rejecting Jewish
identification and favoring universalist assimilationism instead. In light
of all this, I am always troubled by celebrations of Russian populism.
    Speaking of populism, I live in Minnesota, the capital of U.S.
anti-semitism and you guessed it - good ol' Mid-western populism.
  Oversimplified or not, I remain suspicious when I am
confronted by any movement based not on a theory of social relations, but
instead in an abstracted idea of the "true people." to defend such a
movement, as the Narodniks did when they refused to "respond hostiley or
even indifferently to a truly popular movement" in 1881, simply because it
is popular, is certainly an overly simplistic response - is it not?
-Rebecca Hill

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