[Marxism] Fwd: Where did I come from? The Khazar hypothesis | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 20 16:47:13 MDT 2017

When I was in high school, I always assumed that I was a Sephardic Jew 
since my last name was the same as the Spanish word for project (el 
proyecto). It was only years later that I discovered in a book of Jewish 
surnames put together by Czarist scribes that is available at the YIVO 
library in NYC (Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institut, or Yiddish Scientific 
Institute) that the name was Yiddish for the counting house of a tax 
farmer, prevalent in the Slutsk district of Byelorussia in the 1860s.

A tax farmer was a court Jew historically, someone authorized to collect 
taxes for a monarch or other landed gentry for a percentage of the take. 
When I read Abram Leon’s “The Jewish Question” shortly after joining the 
SWP, I was persuaded that my ancestors were like those described in the 
book—people who carried out financial transactions that were banned by 
the church. When a Christian banking class began to emerge in the late 
middle ages, the old-line Jewish bankers and tax collectors et al were 
banished from Spain, England and elsewhere. They headed east to Poland 
and Russia, where feudalism persisted. From various accounts, I have 
learned that the most vicious pogroms of the 19th century were carried 
out against tax collectors on estates owned by the Russian and Polish 
aristocracy who had little contact with the serfs they exploited.


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