Conventional wisdom does not regard Communism with the same abhorrence as fascism, even though if you want to be an accountant about it and add up the skulls of the dead, you will find that the Communists murdered many more people than the fascists did, began murdering before fascists came to power and carried on murdering after the fascists had gone. Yet few can bring themselves to see fascism and Communism as moral equivalents.
- Even Robert Conquest, who mapped the crimes of Stalin, and had been mocked by the know-nothing Left of his day as a Cold War fantasist, said he thought the Nazis were worse than the Communists. He couldn’t explain why, they just felt worse.
- The movements for Jewish self-determination and Russian Communism were twins separated at birth. The First Zionist conference met on August 27, 1897, to discuss the escape from anti-Semitic Europe to Palestine. The General Jewish Labour Bund held its first conference in Vilnius on October 7, 1897, to organise the Russian Empire’s Jews in a united socialist party. The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, from which the Bolsheviks split, held its first conference in March 1898. Naturally, the Bund sent delegates. For liberal and left-wing Europeans of the late 19th century, no regime was more repellent than Tsarist autocracy, and nothing better symbolised its reactionary nature than its anti-Semitic pogroms. Jews responded to the terror by keeping their Jewish identity and joining Jewish socialist movements, such as the Bund, or by becoming entirely assimilated Communists, as Trotsky and many others did.
- The coincidences of history do not end there. On November 2, 1917, Arthur Balfour sent his declaration to Baron Rothschild that the British Empire would allow the Jewish people to find a home in Palestine “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities”. On November 7, 1917, the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace.
- The Jews and the Left were entwined. Many who went to Palestine were socialists determined that the New Jerusalem should be in Jerusalem. Others saw a New Jerusalem rising in Moscow. They could never get on for theoretical and practical reasons. The theory sounded plausible; indeed, for all the crimes the Left has committed, I still half believe it myself. To revolutionaries, Jewish self-determination was a distraction from universal liberation. Anti-Semitism was purely a result of “medieval” prejudices that would wither away as humanity progressed, Lenin said. The Enlightenment had given the Jews political freedom and an “undeniable progressive assimilation with the surrounding population”. Come Communism, Judaism like all national, class and religious differences would vanish.
THIS BOOK (and article) IS SO INTERESTING!
Ralph Miliband, the father of Ed and David, dissected it well. He was a Marxist who retained the capacity for independent thought, and got into a furious argument with Marcel Liebman, a fellow Marxist Jew, at the time of the Six Day War of 1967. Miliband pointed out an essential truth: that the corrupt regimes of the Middle East needed Israel and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to distract the attention of their peoples. “If Israel did not exist, they would have to invent it,” he said.