Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Jabotinsky, Marxism and Nationalism - and Feminism

"Iyunim" is a publication of BGU.

In its 22 volume of history of Israel and Zionism, I found:

The Polemics Regarding the ‘Crisis of Marxism’ and the Formation of Jabotinsky’s Early Ideological Perceptions: 1898-1903 by Svetlana Natkovich

The abstract:
One of the important events in the intellectual life of Europe during the later years of the nineteenth century was the polemics regarding the ‘Crisis of Marxism’. Marxist scholars and politicians had to contend with critics who held Neo-Kantian views. The Neo-Kantians aspired to revive the moral-transcendental conflicts of the free individual at the center of the political discourse, and to renounce the positivistic ethics that in their opinion was based on social utilitarianism. A third force entered the public arena at the time of the polemics. The non-conformists
George Sorel and Benedetto Croce accepted the Neo-Kantian criticism of the Marxist system and offered a revision of their own*. However, instead of the categories of reason, social contract, and natural rights applied by Neo-Kantian intellectuals, they turned to concepts such as impulse, instinct, and unconscious.

Jabotinsky’s formative years as a young man were spent in one of the centers of the ongoing polemics, as a student at the University of Rome from 1898 to 1901. 

As I claim in the article, Jabotinsky’s early views were influenced by Croce and Sorel, and their circles were responsible, to some extent, for Jabotinsky’s adherence to a nationalist view. In order to characterize the formation of Jabotinsky’s political and aesthetic thinking, I focus on an analysis of the political and ideological milieu, the source for his basic assumptions on social issues, during his formative years as a student, journalist, and novice writer.


*  For example this:

Croce wrote the following:

"This current has been principally determined by the necessity in which Marx and Engels found themselves, before the various strains of socialist Utopians, of stating that the so-called social question is not a moral question (i. e., according to how it should be interpreted, this question will not be solved by preachings or by moral means), as well as by their severe criticism of class hypocrisy and ideology. It has also been nurtured, as far as I can see, by the Hegelian origin of the thoughts of Marx and Engels for it is known that in Hegelian philosophy ethics loses the rigidity which Kant gave it and which Herbart was later to lend support to. And, finally, the term "materialism" does not surrender in this connection a shred of efficacy, seeing that the mere term brings immediately to mind the full implications of what is meant by "interest" and "pleasure." But it is evident that the ideality and absoluteness of ethics, in the philosophical sense of such words, are necessary assumptions of socialism. Isn't the interest that drives us to create the concept of surplus value a moral or social interest, or whatever term might be used for defining it? In the sphere of pure economic science can one speak of the theory of surplus value? Doesn't the proletariat sell its productive capacity for what it's worth, given its situation in present day society? And, without this moral assumption, how can the tone of violent indignation and bitter sarcasm, along with Marx's political actions, contained in every page of Das Kapital, be accounted for?" (Materialismo Storico ed Economia Marxistica).

On Sorel.

And as for feminism, there is this article in the volume:

Fruitless Fighting: Women’s Struggle to Enlist the ‘Jewish Legion’ in 1918 by Meir Chazan

The article deals with the Jewish women’s struggle to volunteer for the British army at the end of World War I in 1918. The leader of the women volunteers’ attempt was Rachel Yanait, ‘Ha-Shomer’ committee member and central political activist in the ‘Poalei Zion’ party. Two main political figures within the Zionist
arena, Chaim Weizmann and Zeev Jabotinsky, tried in different ways to assist the fulfillment of the women’s goal to join Jewish men volunteers who were allowed to actively contribute to conquering the Ottoman Empire and liberating Palestine.

Beyond the gender aspects of the women’s struggle at the time, the women’s wish to actively join the British army was mixed with several other topics within the Zionist agenda in 1918: the necessity of using power in achieving the Zionist targets and using the period of regime change in order to elaborate the Jewish control over lands throughout the country. The British did not permit the women to fulfill their wish, and enabled only a few of them to participate in medical tasks within their armed forces. Even though the women failed in their struggle, it was a milestone in women’s attempts from the ‘Ha-Shomer’ days through the Mandatory period to join defense activities and assist the Zionist efforts to gain sovereignty over Palestine.


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