Weber (Jacobs) Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Jack Weber

March of Events

(9 June 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 23, 9 June 1934, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


The Soviet Union has granted to Biro-Bidjan the status of an autonomous Soviet Republic for the Jews. This step is consistently in line with the democratic policy established at the very foundation of the Soviets of granting complete self-determination to the oppressed nationalities, and even to small national minorities. Here is a bit of historic justice – that the country once anathematized by the workers of all lands for its violently reactionary instigations and pogroms against the Jews, should now be the first to grant a vast territory to them for their free cultural development. Coming too, at a time of extreme fascist reaction when the capitalist dictatorships of Germany, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Rumania, Latvia have taken over Czarist tactics of diverting the pent-up wrath of the masses against the terrible conditions under which they are forced to live, of transforming this as yet unguided anger into a weapon of reaction by making scapegoats of the Jews, – the action of the Soviet Government stands out in bold contrast and will undoubtedly draw the Jewish masses everywhere into closer sympathy with Soviet Russia.

* * * *

Contrast with Palestine

Inevitably the question will pose itself to the many Jews attracted now more than ever to the idea of a homeland – which one, Palestine or Biro-Bidjan? To the Marxist this question can have but one answer. There can be no question of the idealism of the Jewish masses in supporting Palestine and immigrating there. But Palestine carries a double taint, that of capitalist dividing of the working class and that of imperialist intrigue. It is by no accident (at least so far as the bourgeois leaders are concerned) that the Zionists everywhere set themselves apart from the workers’ movement. The sort of national culture desired by Jewish capitalists is reactionary and aims to split off one and not the least important section of the workers from the international movement. True there exists a section of the Zionist movement that carries on a struggle against capitalist influence inside and outside of Palestine. With their struggle against capitalism we are completely in sympathy. But Jewish Palestine remains nevertheless a bit of transported capitalism under the paw of British imperialism. The conflict in which Jewish immigrants immediately find themselves with the Arabs tends to obscure for both the Jewish and the Arab masses the essential need for proletarian unity against the common capitalist oppressors. It permits the semi-feudal Arabian ruling class to gain the support of the Arab masses in a fictitious struggle against British imperialism in the role of expropriating the Arab in favor of the Jew. It permits the Jewish bourgeoisie to foist a fake national unity on their masses by the false plea of common defense.

* * * *

The Question of Freedom

Biro-Bidjan, on the other hand stands as a symbol for all nationalities and for the Jews in particular. No oppressed nationality or national minority – and this can be said categorically – can gain its freedom under capitalist rule. Today only by enlisting in the international class struggle on the side of the proletariat for the complete overthrow of capitalism, for the abolition of private property ana capitalist exploitation, can the oppressed national masses gain their freedom. In every nation there exists, as Lenin pointed out, not one national culture, but two. The dominant culture, that of the present ruling class, is one of robbery at home and abroad, of exploitation and oppression of all kinds, including that of national minorities. The other existing in embryo only in the capitalist countries, is that of proletarian democracy, of international socialism fighting for unity of the oppressed against all separatist barriers of race, color, religion, including the national barriers. The proletariat of each and every land in liberating itself also leads to the liberation of every other section of the oppressed masses.

* * * *

Defense of the Soviet Union

That is the meaning of Biro-Bidjan. Here the Jews are given the opportunity to establish a real homeland devoid of capitalist exploitation and built in cooperation, not merely with each other but with the international proletariat. Let no one assume the task is easy for Biro-Bidjan no more than the rest of the Soviet Union is safe so long as capitalism still exists. But the Jewish masses have an added reason for supporting the workers’ fatherland and defending the Soviet Union.

Weber (Jacobs) Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 10 May 2016