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