ALLIANCE (MARXIST-LENINIST)
Number 30, Oct 1998
MARX, LENIN & STALIN ON ZIONISM


Part Two: Stalin And Lenin=s Views on The Jewish Question And the Bund; & The Early History of the Bund.


    Background - The Position of Russian Jewry

    In 1791, Tsarina or Empress Catherine II created what was to become known as the Pale Of Settlement. This restricted Jewish residence to either territories annexed from Poland along the Russian Western border, or to territories seized from Turkey along the shores of the Black Sea. Later other annexed territories were added. (See Map below from web site ABeyond the Pale@). The same type of restrictions noted briefly above, on Jews in Germany, prevailed both here and Poland itself.



  

                                    ThePale:http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/32.html )


Perhaps the worst anti-Semitism in Europe was in these parts.

Tsar Alexander II=s reign saw at least the legal and theoretical emancipation of the serfs in 1861. It marked some hopes on the part of Russian Jews for major change in their living circumstances. In fact there were some improvements with Jews being able to live outside the Pale of Settlement:

AOn the first anniversary of Alexander's coronation the hated Cantonist system is repealed. Bit by bit, small groups of Jews considered Auseful@ are allowed to settle outside the Pale: merchants, medical doctors and artisans. The Jewish communities of St. Petersburg, Moscow and Odessa grow rapidly, and Jews start to participate in the intellectual and cultural life. The industrial development of the 1860s, following the disastrous Crimean War creates opportunities for a small group of Jewish entrepreneurs, particularly in banking and the export trade, in mining and in the construction of railroads.@
(Web: Beyond The Pale: http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/32.html )
    But this was short lived, and the Polish Uprising of 1863, led to an anti-Semitic wave again. After Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by Narodniks, in 1881 the following repression was associated with pogroms aimed at Ablaming@ the Jews for the social unrest, and to divert social criticism. The Tsarist authorities used the Jewish question as a means of Adividing and ruling@: ABeginning in Elizabetgrad, a wave of pogroms spread throughout the southwestern regions, more than 200 in 1881 alone. The authorities.. (often) showed sympathy for the pogromists. An official investigation confirmed: the plunderers were convinced that the attacks were sanctioned by the Czar himself. The same investigation blamed AJewish exploitation@ as the cause for the pogroms.@ Web Site : (Web: Beyond ThePale:
http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/32.html )
    Severe restrictions and persecution under the so called ATemporary Laws@ of May 1882 lasted until 1917: AThe area of the Pale of Settlement was reduced by 10 percent. Jews were once more prohibited from living in villages, to buy or rent property outside their prescribed residences, denied jobs in the civil service and forbidden to trade on Sundays and Christian holidays..... In 1887, the number of Jewish students entering secondary schools in the Pale was restricted to 10 percent. As in some towns Jews constituted 50 to 70 percent of the population, many high school classes remained half empty. In 1891 a degree was passed that the Jews of Moscow, who had settled in the city since 1865, were to be expelled. Within a few months about 20,000 people were forced to give up their homes and livelihood and deported from the already overcrowded Pale.@
(Web: Beyond ThePale: http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/32.html )
    Nicholas II, succeeded Alexander III in 1894, and was as autocratic. But the reform movement gained strength. Both workers and students rebelled. Again the tactic of divide and rule was used in pogroms against Jews. At the same time the anti-Japanese war was launched. The pogroms were directly financed and supported by the vicious reactionary Minister of the Interior Viacheslav Plehve. For example, a pogrom in Kishinev in 1903, led to forty-five people=s murders, and 1,300 homes and shops were plundered. The rioters were protected: AFor his anti-Semitic agitation, the editor of the local newspaper, Bessarabets, had received funds from..Viacheslav Plehve. When the perpetrators of the Kishinev pogroms received only very light sentences, it became clear that pogroms had become an instrument of government policy, and Jews began to form self-defence units.@
(Web: Beyond ThePale: http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/32.html )
    After the defeat of Russia by the Japanese, the pogroms intensified, led by the rabid ultra-reactionary Black Hundreds: AThe Black Hundreds now openly declared the extermination of the Jews as their program. But the worst orgy of violence broke out after the Czar was forced to grant a constitution in October 1905. Mainly organized by the monarchist Union of Russian People, and with the cooperation of local government officials, pogroms were staged in more than 300 towns and cities, leaving almost a thousand people dead and many thousands wounded.@
(Web: Beyond The Pale http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/32.html )
    But by end 19th Century, the Jewish population was over 5 million. Assimilation did occur and Jews took part in the political movements, including the Narodniki: AThe early Jewish revolutionaries among the Narodniki saw themselves as Russians fighting for the right of the Russian people, and believed that the Jewish problem would be solved through assimilation after the liberation of the masses.@(Web: Beyond ThePale: http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/32.html     But more Jews were convinced of the need for a separate Jewish workers movement. In 1897, the Jewish labor movement Algemeyner Yiddisher Arbeter Bund was founded in Vilna, and argued for "national and cultural autonomy' but not for a territorial separation: "The Bund advocated national and cultural autonomy for the Jews, but not in the territorial sense; it argued for a middle course between assimilation and a territorial solution. The Bund also developed trade union activities and formed self-defence organizations against pogrom violence. In 1905, it had about 33,000 members. "
(Web: Beyond The Pale: http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/english/32.html
    It is this central question of a seperate territory that distinguished the Bundists from the Zionists. Of course the Bund was more orientated to the workers movement and socialism also. So much so, that even the avowedly Zionist organisation formed in Russia adopted a socialist tone: AMany Jews no longer saw any point in the struggle for emancipation within Russian society and turn after the publication of Herzl's ADer Judenstaat@ in 1836 to Zionism instead. The largest Zionist party, Poalei Zion (AWorkers of Zion@), founded in 1906, was Marxist in orientation and defined the establishment of a socialist-Jewish autonomous state in Palestine as its ultimate goal.@
Web Site : ABeyond The Pale@; Ibid; p.39
    Even more Jews left Russia, rather than enter the political movement, going mainly to America and Western Europe: ABetween 1881 and 1914, more than 2 million Jews left Russia.@ Web Site : ABeyond The Pale@; Ibid; p.39) . In March 1917, the revolution moves on and the Czarist regime is toppled. This was greeted: AWith joy among the Jewish community@. The Provisional Government, as one of its first acts, abolished all limitations based on religion or nationality. For the first time in their history, the Jews of Russia were free to organize and express themselves. Synagogues and schools are opened, publications appeared in Hebrew and Yiddish, and political and cultural life flourishes.... The ADeclaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia@ recognized the right to both religious and national autonomy@.
Web Site : ABeyond The Pale@; Ibid; p.40
    The separation of Church and State, was decreed by both the Zionists and the religious minded Jews. This edict, introduced in January 1918, was coupled with the active organisation of Jewish Bolshevik sections in the party termed Yevsektsii. All this: AResulted in the confiscation of religious properties and the prohibition of religious instruction in schools....the Yevsektsii conducted a systematic campaign against all aspects of Judaism and Jewish life. Its first decision was the dissolution of the kehilla, the Jewish community administration, which served as the main instrument of Jewish religious and cultural life.@
Web Site : ABeyond The Pale@; Ibid; p40
    After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Civil War against White counter-revolutionaries had a major focus in the Ukraine, where 60 percent of Russian Jews lived. The pogroms of the White led armies were only fought off by the Bolsheviks. That left the Jewish population at the end of the Civil War depleted, but with gratitude to the Bolsheviks:     Stalin was asked by Lenin, in 1923, to write a work to define the Bolshevik response to the national question. This became the famous classic AMarxism And The National Question@. What did Stalin consider as the definition of a ANation?@ Stalin held that nationality was not dependent upon religion, nor upon a racial mixture. The famous succinct definition given by Stalin is that : "A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture."
J.V.Stalin AWorks= Moscow; 1956; Vol 2; AMarxism and the National Question@; p. 307.
    Stalin pointed out, that under conditions of a national oppression, the workers suffer more than the bourgeoisie. One of the examples he uses to demonstrate this are the Jewish workers. This might in fact, imply that Stalin views Jews as a Anation@. He states :     Stalin therefore argued that the National Liberation struggle was a key issue for the workers movement. But the national liberation struggle must also be supported for another reason. Because the national struggle is diversionary for the real interests of the working class. It obscures and diverts from the real workers struggle - for socialism : "The policy of nationalist persecution is dangerous to the cause of the proletariat .. It diverts the attention of large strata from social questions, questions of the class struggle, to national questions, questions Acommon@ to the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. And this creates a favourable soil for lying propaganda about Aharmony of interests@, for glossing over the class interests of the proletariat and for the intellectual enslavement of the workers. This creates a serious obstacle to the cause of using the workers of all nationalities@.
J.V.Stalin AWorks= Moscow; 1956; Vol 2; AMarxism and the National Question@; p. 320-21
    And linked to this, moreover, >nationalism= encourages a policy of >divide and rule=, allowing a ruling class to split workers apart, again diverting from the main struggle - the class struggle: "The >system= of oppression (leads) to a >system> of inciting nations against each other to a >system= of massacres and pogroms.. Of course the latter system is not everywhere and always possible, but where it is possible - in the absence of elementary civil rights - it frequently assumes horrifying proportions and threatens to drown the cause of unity of the workers in blood and tears. The Caucasus and the South Russia furnish numerous examples. ADivide and rule@- such is the purpose of the policy of incitement. And where such policy succeeds, it is a tremendous evil for the proletariat and a serious obstacle to the cause of uniting the workers of all the nationalities in the state."
J.V.Stalin AWorks= Moscow; 1956; Vol 2; AMarxism and the National Question@; p. 321
    In part, the work "Marxism and the National Question", was written in order to refute the shallow reasoning of the Austrian revisionist Marxist, Otto Bauer. Otto Bauer had proposed a programme of so-called ACultural-national autonomy@ for groups of workers of one national background within a single state. Stalin explained what the programme actually meant : "Let us now examine the essence of the programme itself. What is the national programme of the Austrian social-democrats? It is expressed into words: Cultural-national autonomy. This means firstly that autonomy would be granted let us say, not to Bohemia or Poland, which are inhabited mainly by Czechs and Poles, but to Czechs and Poles generally, irrespective of territory, no matter what part of Austria they inhabit. That is why this autonomy is called national and not territorial. It means secondly that the Czechs, Poles, Germans and so on, scattered over various parts of Austria, taken personally as individuals are to be organized into integral nations, and are as such to form part of the Austrian state. In this way Austria would represent not a union of autonomous nationalities, but a union of autonomous nationalities, constituted irrespective of territory."
J.V.Stalin AWorks= Moscow; 1956; Vol 2; AMarxism and the National Question@; p. 331-332
    The fact that Otto Bauer was a >socialist= leader, made such theories especially dangerous for the working class, as they dressed up bourgeois ideology in a more palatable dress, to >mask it=. This made it more likely for the workers movements to be fooled into adopting the theories:     In specific reference to the Jews, Stalin explains that Otto Bauer, despite his praise for >cultural autonomy= in general, is against autonomy for the Jews. Why? In part on the basis of the historical background of assimilation: "In brief the Jewish Nation is coming to an end, and hence there is nobody to demand national autonomy for. The Jews are being assimilated. This view of the fate of the Jews as a nation is not a new one. It was expressed by Marx as early as the forties, in reference chiefly to the German Jews."
J.V.Stalin AWorks= Moscow; 1956; Vol 2; AMarxism and the National Question@; p.344
    Stalin does not disagree with Otto Bauer=s view that the Jews cannot be preserved as a nation. But Stalin does question Bauer=s grounds for rejecting, Bauer=s own >cultural autonomy=, to the Jews. After all points out Stalin, while Bauer allows Pole, Germans etc this mythical >cultural autonomy@, he denies it to the Jews! But Stalin says, he does so on partial grounds. The reason Bauer offers is AThat the Jews have no closed territory or settlement@. Stalin says : @This explanation in the main a correct one, does not however express the whole truth@. We may ask what is this Awhole truth@? Stalin goes on to raise the issue of the absence of a national market: "The fact of the matter is that there is no large and stable stratum connected with the land, which would naturally rivet the nation together, serving not only as its framework But also as a @national market@. Of the five or six million Russian Jews only 3-4% are employed in trade industry, in urban institutions and in general are town dwellers; moreover they are spread all over Russia and do not constitute a majority in a single gubernia."
J.V.Stalin AWorks= Moscow; 1956; Vol 2; AMarxism and the National Question@; p. 345
In conclusion, Stalin in AMarxism And The National Question@ thought there was no stable geographical territory within which a Jewish nation could feasibly be Ariveted@ together. These views certainly influenced Stalin, or at least were indistinguishable on the whole from those of Stalin.

Lenin=s Remarks On The National Question: On Jews And The Bund

    How did Lenin regard the Jewish minority, some of who saw themselves as a nation? Jews certainly wanted liberation from oppressions, and this wish frequently took the form of National aspirations. This was the explicit view of the socialists of the Jewish ABund@. The Bund is discussed in more detail below. Lenin first discusses the Jews in a more general vein, in ACritical Remarks on the National Question@, written in 1913.
    Here he states that the Jews were not a separate nation. He acknowledges that racist reactionary behaviour forms them into an >unhappy, downtrodden and disfranchised caste=. But rather than separation, Lenin argued that assimilation was the best progressive step:

"It is the Jewish nationalists in Russia in general and the Bundists in particular who vociferate most about Russian orthodox Marxists- being Aassimilators@. And yet ..out of the ten and a half million Jews all over the word, about half that number live in the civilised world, where conditions favouring Aassimilation@ are strongest, whereas the unhappy downtrodden disfranchised Jews in Russia and Galicia who are crushed under the heel of the Purishkeviches (NB: Lenin uses APurishkevich@, derived from the landowner monarchist, Vladimir Mitrofanovich Purishkevich; who founded the reactionary >Black Hundreds= in 1905 period to ward off revolution (Both Russian and Polish). live where conditions for Aassimilation@ least prevail, where there is most segregation and even a APale of Settlement@, a Anumerous clausus@ and other charming features of the Purishkevich regime. The Jews in the civilised world are not a nation, they have in the main become assimilated, say Karl Kautsky and Otto Bauer. The Jews in Galicia and in Russia are not a nation; unfortunately (through no fault of their own but through that of the Purishkeviches) they are still a caste here.. "
Lenin ACritical Remarks National Question@ In ALenin On USA@; p. 87; or Collected Works; Vols 20; pp 28-30, and 37; OR:  http://gate.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/CRNQ13.html
    The Bund argued for Acultural autonomy@ and a separate educational system. But Lenin replied that assimilation can work, even under capitalism he argued, pointing to the process at work in the USA: "A rough idea of the scale which the general process of assimilation is assuming under the present conditions of advanced capitalism may be obtained from the immigration statistics of the United States of America.. The 1900 census in the USA recorded over 10,000,000 foreigners. New York state.. grinds down national distinctions."
Lenin ACritical Remarks National Question@ In ALenin On USA@; p. 87; or: Collected Works; Vols 20; p.28-37;
    Lenin concludes that the plans for a non-assimilation is reactionary, and negatively compares it to the introduction of Aseparate@ school systems in the South of the USA: "In practice the plan for Aextra-territoriality@ or @cultural national@ autonomy could mean only one thing: the division of educational affairs according to nationality re the introduction of national curia in school affairs.. How utterly reactionary it is even from the standpoint of democracy let alone from that of the proletarian class struggle for socialism.. A single instance and a single scheme for the Anationalisation@ of the school system will make this point abundantly clear. In the USA the division of the States into Northern and Southern, holds to this day in all departments of life: the former possess the greatest traditions of freedom and of struggle against the slaveowners; the latter possess the greatest traditions of slave ownership, survivals of persecution of the Negroes, who are economically oppressed and culturally backward (44% of Negroes are illiterate and 6% of whites), and so forth. In the Northern states Negro children attend the same schools as white children do. In the South there are separate Anational@, or racial, whichever you please, schools for Negro children. I think this is the sole instance of actual Anationalisation@ of schools.. In Eastern Europe there exists a country where things like the Beilis case are still possible, and Jews are condemned by the Purishkeviches to a condition worse than that of the Negroes. In that country a scheme for nationalisation Jewish schools was recently mooted in the Ministry. Happily this reactionary utopia is no more likely to realised than the utopia of the Austrian petty bourgeois.@
Lenin ACritical Remarks on the National Question@; Ibid; p. 88-89. (Note: Beilis Case: An infamous case where a Jew was framed and brutally put to death for crimes he had not committed.)
    Related to the issue of whether the Jews formed a nation, was the concept of a multi-national state. In his later polemics of 1914, with Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin wrote "The Right Of Nations To Self-Determination". Here Lenin firmly upholds the rights of nations to self determination, against Luxemburg=s hesitations. But in this work, Lenin holds that the "typical normal" capitalist state is one inhabited by a single nation: "The tendency of every national movement is towards the formation of national states, under which.. requirements of modern capitalism are best satisfied. The most profound economic factors drive towards this goals and, therefore for the whole of Western Europe, nay, for the entire civilised world, the national state is typical and normal for the capitalist period.@
Lenin; ARight Of Nations Self Determination@; Selected Works; Vol 1; Moscow; 1977; p.569; C W 20; p393;
OR http://gate.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/RNSD14.html
    Departures from this are unusual. Lenin goes on to cite the then Marxist, Karl Kautsky, who agreed that multi-national states are formed in territories where the state structure remains "abnormal or underdeveloped" in relation to the needs of capitalist society: "States of mixed national composition (known as multi-national states, as distinct from national states) are "always those whose internal constitution has for some reason remained abnormal or underdeveloped (backward)". Needless to say, Kautsky speaks of abnormality exclusively in the sense of lack of conformity with what is best adapted to the requirements of a developing capitalism."
Lenin;ARight Of Nations to Self Determination@; Ibid; p. 569.
Elsewhere Lenin continues to be hostile to any chauvinism, on the part of the Jewish representatives. This naturally came to a head with the Bund.


THE BUND AND EARLY ZIONISM

    The term Zionism, actually dates from the late 1890's and was supposedly coined by Nathan Birnbaum. But many authorities accept that it was only made into a popular term by Theodore Herzl.

AThe term Zionism was first used publicly by Nathan Birnbaum at a discussion meting in Vienna .. 23 January 1892. The history of political Zionism begins with the publication of Theodore Herzl=s >Judenstaat= four years later at the first Zionist Congress... Before the word Zionism became generally accepted, the term Palestinofilvsto (Hibat Zion) was widely used in Russia. @
Preface; Walter Lacquer; >A History of Zionism=; New York; 1976; p. xiii
    Theodore Herzl was a first a lawyer, and then a journalist and playwright. He believed that the idea of the Jewish state was a historical necessity, that was essential in order to overcome anti-Semitism. He considered both the Argentine and Palestine as potential places where the Jews of the world could find a haven from persecution. Herzl always maintained that he had not made a new discovery, but that he had simply resurrected an old solution- that of a Jewish State: "Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State: An Attempt at a Modern Solution of the Jewish Question@ was written in 1896.. (In it - Ed) Herzl disclaimed having made any sensational new discovery. On the contrary.. AThe idea which I have developed in this pamphlet is an ancient one. It is the restoration of the Jewish state.. I have discovered neither the Jewish situation as it has crystallized in history, nor the means to remedy it."
Walter Lacquer; >A History of Zionism=; New York; 1976; p. 86
    So convinced was Herzl that a separate state existence was the only solution for the Jews, that he came to a secret agreement with Plevhe - the notorious Tsarist Home minister who had sponsored pogroms in Russia (See above) to encourage Jews to leave Russia for Palestine. This was simply the first of many later Aaccomodations@ of Zionists with rabid anti-Semites.

    The First Zionist Congress was held in Basle Switzerland on 29 August 1897. (Walter Lacquer; >A History of Zionism=; New York; 1976; p. 103).

    Most Marxists agree that the growth of Zionism, reflected the intense anti-Semitism persecution that the Jewish people, workers especially, suffered. A Trotskyite Jew, the Belgian Abraham Leon, wrote a useful study of the Jewish Question. According to Leon, Zionism was a response to the worst racism, expressed in the anti-Jewish pogroms:

    In Russia there were several Jewish ideological movements. The first Zionist movements were led by David Gordon and Perz Smolenskin. But these were superseded by various >socialist currents= within the Zionist stream. One sprung out of the ALovers of Zion@ movement mentioned above by Leon, and was called AWorkers of Zion@ (Poalei-Zion) which formed in 1906 from groups in Minsk and in Southern Russia. They were led by Ber Borochov, who:     But these various currents, were in general eclipsed by the Bund (Or the General Workers' Union of Lithuania, Poland and Russia). This was the most important Jewish workers socialist party and was established in 1897. It stood for the autonomous organisation of Jewish workers. It was a section of the general Russian Social-Democrats until it formulated its policy for a so called >cultural autonomy@. This took place at Bialystok in May 1901. This step led to its membership being torn in two, but it nonetheless between the years 1903-1905, had some 30,000 members. But by 1916 it had declined, only to jump up in numbers by the time of December 1917. (Benjamin Pinkus: AThe Jews of the Soviet Union@; Cambridge; 1988; p.43).

    It took a social-chauvinist stand during World War I and during the Civil War supported the counter-revolutionary forces. It finally dissolved itself in 1921.

    Stalin explained why the Bund was more or less, obliged to take up the position of the cultural autonomy in the way it did. By its Sixth Congress (1905), the >national programme@ on the grounds of national autonomy was enshrined. Stalin argued that it was made inevitable by two factors.
The first was the organizational refusal to join with the larger international tide of Russian Social Democracy (ie Marxism-Bolshevism) as it grew:

"The first circumstance is the existence of the Bund as an organisation of Jewish and only Jewish Social Democratic workers. Even before 1897 the Social-Democratic groups active among the Jewish workers set themselves the aim of creating a Aspecial Jewish workers= organisations@. They founded such an organisation in 1897, by uniting to form the Bund. That was at a time when the Russian Social Democracy as an integral body virtually did not yet exist. The Bund steadily grew and spread, and stood out more vividly against the bleak days of Russian social democracy.. Then came the 1900's. A mass labour movement came into being. Polish Social Democracy grew and drew the Jewish workers into the mass struggle. Russian social democracy grew and attracted the Bund workers. Lacking a territorial basis, the national framework of the Bund became too restrictive. The Bund was faced with the problem of either merging with the general international tide, or of upholding its independent existence as an extra-territorial organisation. The Bund chose the latter course. Thus grew up the Atheory@ that the Bund is Athe sole representative of the Jewish proletariat@. But to justify this strange Atheory@ in any simple way became impossible... The Bund seized on >Cultural -national autonomy@.
Stalin; "Marxism & The National Question": Ibid; p.346-347;
    The second factor was the >peculiar= and isolated position of the Jews: AThe second circumstance is the peculiar position of the Jews as separate national minorities within compact majorities of other nationalities in integral regions. We have already said that this position is undermining the existence of the Jews as a nation and puts them on the road to assimilation. But this is an objective process. Subjectively in the minds of the Jews, it provokes a reaction and gives rise to the demand for a guarantee of the rights of a national minority, for a guarantee against assimilation.. The Bund could not avoid being in favor of a Aguarantee@.. it could not but accept national autonomy. For if the Bund could seize upon any autonomy at all, it could only be national autonomy, ie. Cultural national autonomy for the Jews since the Jews have no definite integral territory.@
Ibid; p.347.
    Stalin asked pointedly:     Stalin=s central point is that the absence of democracy ensures >no guarantees= for >freedom of cultural development=. Stalin goes on to cite the cases of Russian Poland and Finland. He then pointed out that the Bund=s splitting tendencies of the workers movements were exposed, by its further actions. These included the clauses whereby the Bund placed emphasis on the Jewish language above all others: "But it becomes still more harmful when it is thrust upon a Anation@ whose existence and future are open to doubt. In such cases the advocates of national autonomy are obliged to protect and preserve all the peculiar features of the Anation@, the bad as well as the good, just for the sake of Asaving the nation@ from assimilation, just for the sake of Apreserving A it. That the Bund should take this dangerous path was inevitable. And it did take it. We are referring to the resolutions of recent conferences of the Bund on the question of the ASabbath,@ AYiddish@, etc. Social democracy strives to secure for all nations the right to use their own language. But that does not satisfy the Bund; it demands that Athe rights of the Jewish language@ be championed with Aexceptional persistence@ and the Bund itself in the elections to the 4th Duma declared that it would give Apreference to those of them (ie electors) who undertake to defend the rights of Jewish language.@ Not the general right of all nations to use their own language, but the particular right of the Jewish language, Yiddish!.. But in what way then does the Bund differ from the bourgeois nationalists?@
Ibid; p.352-353
    Stalin now exposed the Bund=s passage into a chauvinist position, one that was anti-internationalist and anti-proletarian: "It is not surprising that the effect of this state of affairs upon the workers is to weaken their sense of solidarity and to demoralize them; and the latter process is also penetrating the Bund. We are referring to the increasing collisions between Jewish and Polish workers in connection with unemployment. Here is the kind of speech that was made on this subject at the 9th Conference of the Bund: AWe regard the Polish workers, who are ousting us, as pogromists, as scabs, we do not support their strikes, we break them.@ Ibid; p.358-359.     Lenin made clear in several subsequent articles that he agreed with Stalin. For example, in "Does the Jewish Proletariat Need an AIndependent political party?", in 1903, Lenin expresses caustic surprise as to a recent violation by the Bund. Despite polemics with the Bund, where the Bund asserted its= wish to remain part of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP), the Bund was now proclaiming itself as an independent political party: "The Jewish proletariat had formed itself into an independent political party, the Bund. We did not know this before. This is something new. Hitherto the Bund has been a constituent part of the RSDLP.. It is true that at the 4th Congress of Bund, the Bund decided to change its name.. On the other hand when Iskra polemicised with the decision of the Bund=s 4th Congress, the Bund itself stated very definitely that it only wanted to secure the acceptance of its wishes and decisions by the RSDLP; in other words it flatly and categorically acknowledged that until the RSDLP adopted new Rules and settled new forms of attitude towards the Bund, the latter would remain a section of the RSDLP.. But now... this is something new."
Lenin V.I: "Does the Jewish proletariat Need an independent political party?"; Iskra 1903; In Collected Works; Moscow; 1985; Vol 6; p. 328-329.
    Lenin goes on to describe how the Bund has attacked the Jewish AEkaterinoslav Committee@ - which had adopted an internationalist position already. The Bund=s attack was on the question of where does anti-Semitism arise from? The Ekaterinoslav committee had argued that the roots of anti-Semitism were international, and that it found Aadherents among the bourgeois and not among the working class sections of the population@(Lenin Ibid; p. 331).

    But the Bund had chastised the Ekaterinoslav committee for this, arguing that anti-Semitism has "Struck roots in the mass of the workers." Lenin denied the Bund=s view linking anti-Semitism with the bourgeois interests:

"The link that undoubtedly exists between anti-Semitism and the interests of the bourgeois, and not of the working class sections of the population. If they had given it a little more thought they might have realised that the social character of anti-Semitism today is not changed by the fact that dozens or even hundreds of unorganised workers, nine-tenths of whom are still quite ignorant, take part in a pogrom.. We must not weaken the force of our offensive by breaking up into numerous independent political parties."
Lenin Ibid; p. 331-332.
    He elsewhere repeated again that the way forward was assimilation, and not separation: "Can we possibly attribute to chance the fact that it is the reactionary forces all over Europe and especially Russia who pose the assimilation of the Jew and try to perpetuate their isolation? That is precisely what the Jewish problem amounts to: assimilation or isolation?_ and the idea of a Jewish Anationalist@ is definitely reactionary not only when expounded by its consistent advocates (The Zionists), but likewise on the lips of those who try to combine it with the ideas of Social Democracy (The Bundists). The idea of a Jewish nationality runs counter to the interests of the Jewish proletariat, for it fosters among them directly or indirectly, the spirit of the >ghetto=."
Lenin: "Position of the Bund in the Party"; Collected Works; Vol 7; Moscow; 1986 p.101;
Should Workers Always Support A National Status ?

    We argued earlier, that Stalin=s central position regarding Jewish claims of nationhood, was that democratic rights and freedom from oppressions were the key demands that needed to be won - and not "nationhood". The position, of Lenin and Stalin, was always that Nations - if a national status did in fact exist (By definitions provided by Stalin) - should have the full Right to Self Determination.

"The right of self-determination means that a nation may arrange its life in the way it wishes. It has the right to arrange its life on the basis of autonomy. It has the right to enter into federal relations with other nations. It has the right to complete secession. Nations are sovereign, and all nations have equal rights."
Stalin; Ibid; p.321.
    But even if there is a nation, NOT all claims to nationhood are strategically defensible from the workers perspective. For example the Marxist-Leninist will not necessarily support all claims to nationhood if they obstruct the working peoples. For instance, the resurrection of the influence of the >beys and mullahs=, in Transcaucasia, would not have been in the best interests of the >toiling strata. The best answer for the workers and toilers, depends upon the precise historical situation. It must be carefully found by looking at the precise facts: "A nation has the right to arrange its life on autonomous lines. It even the has the right to secede. But this does not mean that it should do so under all circumstances, that autonomy or separation, will everywhere and always be advantageous for a nation; ie. For its majority, ie for the toiling strata. The Transcacausian Tartars as a nation may assemble , let us say, in their Diet and succumbed to the influence of their beys and mullahs, decide to restore the old order of things and to secede from the state. According to the meaning of the clause on self-determination they are fully entitled to do so. But will this be in the interest of the toiling strata of the Tartar nation? Can Marxists look on indifferently when the beys and mullahs assume the leadership of the masses in the solution of the national question?.. Should not Marxists come forward with a definite plan for the solution of the question, a plan which would be most advantageous for the Tartar masses?.. But what solution would be most compatible with the interests of the toiling masses? Autonomy, federation or separation? All these are problems the solution of which will depend on the concrete historical conditions in which the given nation finds itself.. Conditions like everything else change, and a decision which is correct at one particular time may prove to be entirely unsuitable at another."
Stalin; Ibid; p.324
    Stalin was clear upon the rights of minorities and the national question. For example, where there is one geographical region with different minorities, or >proto-nations=, living side by side. This is a special type of national problem. Such situations are still frequent. In Stalin=s day, in Europe, this situation existed in Transcaucasia. As a precondition to solve the problems of these areas, Stalin insisted that:     But, Stalin recognised that there was a possibility that independence and secession was >necessary= for some parts. He then considered the possibility that for some parts >regional autonomy= was preferable. This was so he argued, for "The Jews in Poland, the Letts in Lithuania, the Russians in the Caucasus, the Poles in the Ukraine and so on...@.
    This was for two reasons;
    Firstly, because it disposed of a >fiction bereft of territory=; and,
    Secondly, it did not divide people by nation:     Again - the key issue for Stalin, was that definite, visible, meaningful and clear democratic rights (for instance to use its own language etc). should be granted. So strongly did he feel about this, that he repeats it. He argues that without it an =artificial union= means nothing; and that with it the perceived need for >national union= disappear. He identifies what is it that Aagitates@ a national minority as discrimination of language, liberty of conscience -@religious liberty@, self regulated schooling etc: "What the minorities want is not an artificial union but real rights in the localities they inhabit. What can such a union give them without complete democratisation? On the other hand, what need is there for a national union when there is complete democratisation? What is that particularly agitates a national minority? A minority is discontented not because there is not national union but because it does not enjoy the right to use its native language. Permit it to use its native language and the discontent will pass of itself. A minority is discontented not because there is no artificial union but because it does not possess it own schools. Give it its own schools and all grounds for discontent will disappear.. A minority is discontented not because there is not national union, but because it does not enjoy liberty of conscience (religious liberty), liberty of movement, etc. Give it those liberties and it will cease to be discontented. Thus equal rights of nation in all forms (language, schools, etc) is an essential element in the solution of the national question.. Complete democratisation of the country is required."
Stalin; Ibid; p.375-377
    Stalin=s view, regarding the formation of multi-national states, was the basis for Lenin=s viewpoint that echoed Kautsky (See Lenin above). This was that the formation of multi-national states, is a "special method" of the formation of states, and one which takes place in territories where certain conditions hold, that are more common in the East.
        These conditions are: "Whereas in the West (of Europe-ed) nations developed into states, in the East multi-national states were formed.. This special mode of formation of states could take place only where feudalism has not yet been eliminated, where capitalism was feebly developed, where the
nationalities which had been forced into the background had not
not been able to consolidate themselves economically into integral nations".
Stalin Ibid; p.314.
   Again, even in this context of the multi-national state, Stalin used the example of Transcaucasia. Stalin favoured Democratisation and Regional Autonomy - equating with national status - within a larger federation.

In summary the views of Lenin and Stalin on Zionism were:

 

 

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