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Old 09-13-2009, 01:32 AM
 
Location: MIA
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I just watched the award winning movie "Reds" with Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and Diane Keaton. The movie illustrates the spread of socialist thought in the U.S., France and Russia during and after World War I. It was a real learning experience, and it made me want to research an interesting topic; the immersion of atheism and anarchism in mainstream Jewish culture, or, more specifically, the blatant intimacy of these two ideologies with Jewish identity in the 20th century. Prominent Jewish philosophers were the most represented group in organizing, choreographing, and facilitating the swift expansion of socialist power in the early 20th century. Most of them were also atheists. Many were anarchists.

The Jewish Role in the Bolshevik Revolution and Russia's Early Soviet Regime

In fact, the most profound act of anarchism throughout the Russian Revolution manifested itself in the murder of Tsar's Nicholas II and his royal family, in which Jew Yakov Sverdlov planned the assasination, and which was carried out by other Jews: Goloshchekin, Syromolotov, Safarov, Voikov and Yurovsky.

There were streaks of activist, anarchist, athiest, and socialist trains of thought billowing throughout Europe and Russia, but most of this hysteria never left the bourgeois cafes of Paris. How could a minority of radical bourgeois from the coffee house/academic circut pull the wool over the eyes of 100 million Russians and force them into a repressive regime for the next 70 years...???

From a historical context, what happened to convince so many Jews to take such a radical departure to the ultra left? The 20th century has proven that people of Jewish faith have taken many steps to become more secular, if not athiest.

For the record, I hope this thread does not offend anyone. I am only trying to explore an interesting historical perspective that I never knew about. (Mod Comment: Exploring this subjest is fine, but if this thread gets off-topic and turns Anti-Semetic it will be closed. Thank you.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Revolution_(1917)

Jewish anarchism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

List of Jewish American activists - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jewish atheism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Secular Jewish culture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Last edited by Thyra; 09-13-2009 at 11:19 AM..
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:12 AM
 
Location: Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne
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I am by no means an expert on this topic but I have a hypothesis. The Jewish religion was both passively and actively suppressed (and at times oppressed) in pre-communist Russia. This anti-Jewish sentiment was a reaction to the culture of the Jews not necessarily their bloodline, so a secular Jew could become 'successful' in Russian society, especially academia. (this, incidentally was the case in pre-WWII Germany as well, with Jews maintaining some of the highest positions in German Universities and Banking as well as most areas of business, a fact that was used in anti-Jewish propaganda).

Now these secular Jews were likely to be secure in their non-Jewishness from a spiritual standpoint (that is they were commited to atheism) but at the same time carry resentment of anti-(religious)Jewish sentiment against their families and forbears which might manifest in anti-state or anti-Russian feelings and lead them to support a revolution that would, ostensibly according to the Soviet vision, bring all citizens of the Russian state into an equal footing (i.e. a secular, a-religious state).

That these proto-Communist Russian-Jewish bourgeois were anarchists was unlikely but they harnessed the will and means of anarchists to overthrow the Czar. True anarchist would not set up a state that in any way resembles communist Russia. There is such a thing as anarcho-communism but its goals as far as societal and political structure are far removed from what became Russian Communism.


ABQConvict
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:27 AM
 
Location: MIA
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It should be noted that the Jewish influence in the early days of the revolution waned, and the Jewish atheists who started the intellectual revolution were replaced by non Jewish atheists and by the time Trotsky died, there were hardly any Jews left. Repression against jews in the coming years was extensive, as Jews also headed the secret police for the Revolution and did much of the dirty work for the movement, including murder/genocide...
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:27 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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While not knowledgeable about the era and its baggage that you described, I do have a few thoughts based on your descriptions.

The first parallel that came to mind was the Beatniks. A very small number of Beatniks had a huge, in fact a watershed, influence on the American lifestyle, breaking away from the timidity of conformiity, which progressed quickly to Hippies, and it's been clear sailing ever since. Were the Beatniks not a kind of "a minority of radical bourgeois from the coffee house/academic circuit"? So this would not be an isolated or unexpected phemonemon.

The second idea I had was that Judaism does not carry a great deal of intellectual content. While Christians were examining theology, debating about it, splitting off into schisms, Judaism was steeped in a pageantry of orthodoxy, and being a Jew did not mean embracing the philosophy of their theism, but blindly memorizing it and simply jumping through all the ceremonial hoops. It would have been easy for a person with a burning curiosity to wonder if there was more to human intellect than drinking wine from a bottle whose glass-blower had never seen a pig. Intellectual Jews needed to search outside their religion for philosophical stimuli, while Christians were content to interconnect their real world with their malleble faith.

Last edited by jtur88; 09-13-2009 at 11:35 AM..
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:32 AM
 
Location: MIA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
While not knowledgeable about the era and its baggage that you described, I do have a few thoughts.

The first parallel that came to mind was the Beatniks. A very small number of Beatniks had a huge, in fact a watershed, influence on the American lifestyle, breaking away from the timidity of conformiity, which progressed quickly to Hippies, and it's been clear sailing ever since. Were the Beatniks not a kind of "a minority of radical bourgeois from the coffee house/academic circuit"? So this would not be an isolated or unexpected phemonemon.
Shia labeouf's entire family were beat poets or beat stage performers, I think his mother and aunt were even lesbians... Talk about radical!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
The second idea I had was that Judaism does not carry a great deal of intellectual content. While Christians were examining theology, debating about it, splitting off into schisms, Judaism was steeped in a pageantry of orthodoxy, and being a Jew did not mean embracing the philosophy of their theism, but blindly memorizing it and simply jumping through all the ceremonial hoops. It would have been easy for a person with a burning curiosity to wonder if there was more to human intellect than lighting the appropriate arrangement of candles at the correct hour of the day. Intellectual Jews needed to search outside their religion for stimuli.
Judaism requires so much conformity that it seems certain segments of the religion experienced claustrophobia in the late 19th century, resulting in an explosion, or mass spillage of Jewishness into the anarchist, communist realm. But why communism? What was it about Communism that so many Jews fell in love with?
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Old 09-13-2009, 01:01 PM
 
Location: Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne
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Originally Posted by cuba libre View Post
What was it about Communism that so many Jews fell in love with?
The misperception that a communist society would bring about a cultural equilibrium in which Jews would not experience prejudice and be resigned to being second-class citizens (along with the other purported benefits of a communist society). The same reason for the rapid growth of Reform Judaism and Jews in academia.


ABQConvict
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:34 PM
 
Location: MIA
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Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
The misperception that a communist society would bring about a cultural equilibrium in which Jews would not experience prejudice and be resigned to being second-class citizens (along with the other purported benefits of a communist society).
Wouldn't communism - putting everyone on the same level, regardless of skills or education, put Jews, especially, at a disadvantage?
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Old 09-14-2009, 01:06 PM
 
Location: Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne
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Well there is room for merit in a communist society. I think more than anything else, Jews who were in favor of communism sought a place in politics which was, if I am not mistaken, off-limits to Jews in most parts of Europe.


ABQConvict
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Old 09-15-2009, 07:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
The second idea I had was that Judaism does not carry a great deal of intellectual content. While Christians were examining theology, debating about it, splitting off into schisms, Judaism was steeped in a pageantry of orthodoxy, and being a Jew did not mean embracing the philosophy of their theism, but blindly memorizing it and simply jumping through all the ceremonial hoops. It would have been easy for a person with a burning curiosity to wonder if there was more to human intellect than drinking wine from a bottle whose glass-blower had never seen a pig. Intellectual Jews needed to search outside their religion for philosophical stimuli, while Christians were content to interconnect their real world with their malleble faith.
I couldn't disagree with this idea more. Judaism is full of intellectual content and the wealth of theological debate and study over their long history is staggering.
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Old 09-15-2009, 04:01 PM
 
Location: MIA
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Originally Posted by Sandhillian View Post
I couldn't disagree with this idea more. Judaism is full of intellectual content and the wealth of theological debate and study over their long history is staggering.
How is this possible in light of Judaism being such a restrictive religion? You have to jump through more hoops than any other religion to be considered "one of them"...

Other religions, like Christianity, Islam and maybe even Buddhism all have fast track paths for people to convert. I don't see that with Judaism. Therefore, I agree with jtur88 that Judaism is "steeped in orthodoxy", a religion within a people, not of the people. Look at the Jews in LA and the word 'religious' does not even come to mind.
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