Why Did the Russian Zionists Criticize Cultural Autonomy? The “Imagined Context” of Zionism and the Austro-Marxist Theory of Nationality Cover Image

なぜロシア・シオニストは文化的自治を 批判したのか ― シオニズムの「想像の文脈」とオーストリア・マルクス主義民族理論 ―
Why Did the Russian Zionists Criticize Cultural Autonomy? The “Imagined Context” of Zionism and the Austro-Marxist Theory of Nationality

Author(s): Taro Tsurumi
Subject(s): Jewish studies
Published by: Slavic Research Center

Summary/Abstract: The Russian Zionist movement and the Bund (Jewish Labor Union) were rivals in Jewish politics in the Russian Empire. While they both attempted to improve the status of Jews within the Empire by participating in the Russian political arena, an important difference resided in the Zionists’ insistence on the need for a territory for Jews. On the surface, the cause of this difference seems evident: the Zionists conceived of the system of nation-state, whereas the Bundists considered a multi-national statehood, in which Jews would play a part. In this respect, it is well known that the Bundists referred to the Austro-Marxist theory of nationality, initiated by Karl Kautsky and developed by Karl Renner and Otto Bauer, which assumed a multi-national statehood. The theories developed by the latter two are known for their application of the “personal principle” within the context of multi-national statehood. However, the Russian Zionists, especially those involved in the organ Rassvet, also referred to these theories in a positive light. That is, the Zionists also conceived of multi-national contexts, within which multiple nations (nationalities) would reside in a state; moreover, they did not reject Renner and Bauer’s theories, combining the “personal principle” with the “territorial principle” in solving national problems within a state. What, then, was the difference between the Bundists’ perceived context – called in this article an “imagined context” – and that of the Zionists? Furthermore, what made the Zionists criticize the Bundists’ program of “cultural autonomy”? The Russian Zionists – Zionists involved in the Russian Zionist Organization and Russian Zionist journals such as Evreiskaia Zhizn’ (monthly) and Rassvet – also strove to achieve the participation of Jews in Russian imperial politics and foresaw the continuous existence of Jews in the Empire. The main figures whose arguments are discussed in the present article are G. Abramovich, D. Pasmanik, V. Jabotinsky, M. M. A. Hartglas, and A. Idelson, who were prominent Zionist activists and major contributors to Zionist publications. Although some scholars have indicated an affinity between the program of autonomy of the Zionists in the Empire and the Austro-Marxist theory, this article proves that the Russian Zionists actually used the theory within their “imagined context” and criticized the Bundist “cultural autonomy.” By doing so, this article focuses on the Russian Zionists’ emphasis on the “social.”

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: 57
  • Page Range: 59-95
  • Page Count: 37
  • Language: Japanese