populism

Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Sat Feb 4 08:10:28 MST 1995


I'm not an expert on Russian populism either, but I find Hill's claims
that it was anti-semitic to the core simply incredible. A quick survey of
the chapter on the Narodya Volya in Adam Ulam's In the Name of the People
offers no substantiation to the claim. Likewise Franco Venturi's chapter
on the same in Roots of Revolution. Moreover, had the Populists been
anti-Semites, Lenin would not have hestiated to flay them with that in
"Who Are the 'Friends of the People'....," but he doesn't mention the
charge. And given the Populists' emphasis on terrorist attacks on the
government, Jew-baiting in the Black Hundreds style makes no sense at all.
Quite apart from the fact that a lot of them were Jews, whether or not
they were "cosmopolitan." (Incidentally that word, in the Russian context,
has an anti-semitic flavor--Stalin and other Soviet and Russian
anti-semites called the Jews "rootless cosmpolitans," to emphasize that
they were not real Russians, Ukrainians, etc.)

What about this pamphlet, sourced to Davidowicz? I'd have to knpw more
about its provenance. D is a far-right wing ultra-Zionist neo-con who has
an interest in trashing any left wing movements. (Her treatment of the
Jewish Communist and Bundist resistance to the Nazis in her holocaust
book,  The War Against The Jews (otherwise pretty good), is disgraceful. D
if all people ought to be sensitive to forged documents used to discredit
subordinate groups. I'm not saying it is forged, but I'm saying that it's
inconsisted with what we otherwise know, or anyway with what I otherwise
know, about the Populists.

Of course Marx was a Jew. He himself was irreligious and didn't identify
with the Jewish tradition. His father had converted to Christianity for
professional reasons (although he was an Englightenment deist). But by
Jewish tradition, if you're mother is a Jew (and Marx's was), so are you.
The name "Marx" itself is a shortened form of "Mordechai", changed to
Markus, then Marx. Marx's paternal grandfather was rabbi of Trier, as was
Marx's uncle. Marx's maternal grandfather had also been rabbi in Trier.

--Justin Schwartz,

Rootless cosmopolitan, and no less Jewish than Marx

On Sat, 4 Feb 1995, Rebecca Hill wrote:

>   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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