Myth of Jewish Menace - Lucien Wolf

Jews and Bolshevism

The final argument of the anti-Semitic scaremongers is the Judeo-Bolshevik bogey. The Morning Post theory of "World Unrest" may prove difficult of assimilation to matter-of-fact minds, and the authenticity of the Nilus Protocols may be suspect, but the Bolshevism of the Jews is asserted to be an incontrovertible fact, which proves that both the theory and its documents are morally justifiable. Were it not for its very tragical possibilities, the evocation of this bogey would be a fit subject for mirth, or, at best, a problem for the folk-lorist or the student of corporate hallucination. As it is, it is a very serious matter, seeing that the lives of many thousands of innocent persons are jeopardised by it.

The bogey takes the specific form of a charge against the Jews of Russia and Poland that they are for the most part Bolsheviks, and that the Bolshevist revolution was engineered by them and is still controlled and directed by them.[53] The only evidence cited in support of it is that Trotsky and a few of the more prominent Bolshevist commissaries are men of Jewish birth, and that a similar element on an even more restricted scale is found in certain of the Soviets. But those men are no more Jews than Lenin, Lunacharsky, Chicherin, and the great bulk of the Russian Bolsheviks are Christians. It would, indeed, be just as reasonable to say that the mainstay of Russian Bolshevism is to be found in American and British Christendom because it has found sympathisers in Mr. Bullitt and Mr. Steffens, in Mr. Goode, Mr. Price, Mr. Russell, Mr. Ransome, Mr. Hunt, and many other Americans and Englishmen of Christian birth.

The appearance of the bogey at this moment is not difficult to understand. There has always been at the back of the anti-Semitic mind an uneasy feeling that the Jews are, as the old law books say, perpetui inimici Regis et Religionis. Their participation in the bourgeois Revolutions of 1830 and 1848 gave political point to this superstition, and ever since it has been a favourite theory of the more fanatical reactionaries that the whole Democratic movement in Europe is a Jewish conspiracy for the subversion of Christianity and Christian society. In this respect the Morning Post theory is, as has already been shown, not new. In Russia it became early an expedient of reactionary tactics. To denounce revolution on its merits was difficult, but to denounce it as a Jewish conspiracy against the Throne and the Altar was always calculated to impress large classes of the population who otherwise might not have been indisposed to look indulgently on a great political change. This was the cue of all the incendiary appeals of the Okhrana against the Revolution of 1905.[54]

Thus, when Bolshevism arose, it was quite in the line of traditional Russian policy to denounce it as the work of the Jews. From the reactionary camps of Deniken and Koltchak, and even from the Allied armies in the North, where the Intelligence and Propaganda Services were necessarily in the hands of Russian officers of the old Tsarist regime, the country was flooded with pamphlets and broadsheets declaring that Bolshevism was a Jewish plot, and that the aim of those who were making war on it was not to fight their Russian brothers, but to deliver them from their Jewish bondage. It was, however, in Germany that the bogey was adapted for consumption in Western Europe. The old Junker anti-Semitism received a great impulse from the collapse of thrones which followed the Armistice of 1918. All the revolutionary movements were at once attributed by them to the Jews, and, by way of showing the victorious Allies the danger they were courting by tolerating them, bloodcurdling pictures of Russian Bolshevism as the first fruits of an international Jewish conspiracy were issued from the presses of the anti-Semitic society known as Deutschland's Erneuerung, in Munich.[55] A circle of Russian Monarchist refugees in Berlin founded a weekly paper called The Sunbeam to help in the holy work. It was in the columns of this journal that translations of extracts from Nilus's forged Protocols first appeared.[56] Early in 1919 the themes of these imbecile ephemerides were gathered up and co-ordinated in bulky volumes by Baron Hans von Liebig,[57] by Dr. Friedrich Wichtl, and by a person calling himself "Wilhelm Meister."[58] These writers were the final artificers of the bogey as we now know it, Trotsky being represented in their pages as the conscious instrument not only of the Jewish Rabbinate and of Jewish finance, but also of the secretly Judaised Masonic Lodges. A curious restatement of this apocalypse will be found in an anonymous pamphlet, entitled "Le Bolshevisme," which was printed in Paris last year by the Jesuits of the Rue Garanciere.[59] The French, however, have been very loth to touch this unclean product of German Kultur.

We need only glance at the leading tenets of the Bolsheviks to realise how stupid all this is—indeed, how impossible it is that Bolshevism should find even an appreciable measure of sympathy in the Jewish community. Lenin, Trotsky, and their associates are not only extreme Communists, but are also avowed Atheists. On the other hand, the great bulk of the Jews of Russia are extremely orthodox members of the Synagogue, who hold in horror every symptom of Atheism. The strength of this element was recently estimated by M. Paderewski himself at 75 per cent. In their economic affiliation these Jews are not less hostile to Bolshevism. They belong in an overwhelming proportion to the upper and middle-class bourgeoisie. Moreover, the Jew is instinctively and by all his traditions an individualist. It has been possible to found under the great names of Lamennais, Kingsley, Maurice, Hughes, Bishop Ketteler, and others a school of Christian Communism seeking its sanctions in the teachings of orthodox Christianity. No such school in the strictly economic sense exists or is possible in the Jewish Church. Marx and Lassalle ceased to be Jews long before they became Socialists, and, in so far as the Jewish proletariat which has arisen in Russia and Poland under the stress of exceptional and ephemeral conditions is Socialistic, it is notoriously remote from the Synagogue—as from every other kind of "clericalism"—and impatient of its control.

But, it is said, the Jews must be held responsible for Bolshevism because Bolshevism is only applied Marxism, and Marx was a Jew. I have already pointed out that, strictly speaking, Marx was not a Jew, but, even supposing he were, that would not make Bolshevism a Jewish creation, seeing that in point of fact it is, in its main lines, not even Marxist. There is so much loose thinking on this question that it may be well to indicate—however briefly—the fundamental differences between the teachings of Marx and Lenin. In the first place, Marx was a Democrat, while Lenin is confessedly an Oligarch. Democracy is axiomatic with Marx, the foundation of all his doctrine. Lenin, on the other hand, derides the mere counting of heads. He is, as he would put it, for the supremacy of truth, whatever the number of its disciples. This vital difference affects the systems of the two men at all essential points. Thus, while Marx teaches that the Dictatorship of the Proletariat should be the outcome of a Democratic Republic based on Universal Suffrage, Lenin rejects Universal Suffrage, and bases the Dictatorship on a Guild or Soviet Republic. Again, Marx stands for Revolution by Law in all Democratic States, while Lenin stands for Revolution by Force, whatever the constitution of the State. Nor does this apply only to revolutions, for while Marx holds that the authority of the State must, whenever possible, be exercised by peaceful means, Lenin teaches that Force is inherent in the State and its exercise unavoidable. This leads Lenin to the view of Robespierre that even the Terror is in a sense mystically sanctified—a view of which Marx never dreamt in his most daring moments. Finally, contrast the conceptions of the State as set forth by the two men. Both, of course, are for the State, but while Marx pictures it, after the decision of the Class War, as composed of the whole Democracy seeking the conciliation of its conflicting elements, Lenin would confine it to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, even though the other classes might be in the majority.[60] There is, of course, much to be said for both theories within the ring-fence of Socialist polemics, but I am not concerned at this moment with their respective merits. All I want to show is that Marx cannot be held responsible for Bolshevism as we know it, and that if the alleged Jewishness of Bolshevism rests on the theory that it has any essential affinity with Marxism it is singularly unconvincing.

The case against the bogey is, however, not limited to these generalisations. It may be said, while the upper and middle classes in Jewry are probably free from Bolshevism, this is not the case with the Jewish proletariat. If not orthodox Jews, they certainly profess a strong Jewish nationalism, and if from them Bolshevism draws its main strength, then Jewry must bear the responsibility. On this point, happily, very definite information is available. First, with regard to the leaders. Bolshevism was founded in 1903, through a split among the Russian Socialists, which took the form of a revolt against Lenin. Who led the revolt? The Jew Martoff, and he was supported by all the most conspicuous Jews in the party, including Trotsky himself.[61] They were followed by the great bulk of the rank-and-file of so-called Jewish Socialists. How true this is, can be shown by an analysis of the Leninite party fourteen years later. In the autumn of 1917 the Bolsheviks themselves published a statistical analysis of the constituents of the Soviets, with special regard to their geographical and ethnographical distribution. It was there shown that the Bolsheviks had a clear majority over the Mensheviks, or non-Bolshevist Socialists, and that they were far more largely composed of pure Russian elements than the Mensheviks. Their greatest strength was found in the districts of Petrograd, Moscow, the Baltic Provinces, the Volga, the Ural, and Asiatic Russia, where the Great-Russian working masses dominate. On the other hand, the Mensheviks were almost entirely confined to the western and south-western provinces, the Don district, and the Caucasus, where the chief non-Russian races are found. Here the return for the Jewish Pale of Settlement that is, the provinces in which 95 per cent. of the Jews of Russia and Poland reside—is most significant. The number of organised Mensheviks is given at 18,000, while of organised Bolsheviks there is no trace whatever in the whole region. The other non-Russian districts in these provinces were less fortunate, for in the south-western governments the proportion of Bolsheviks to Mensheviks was 8 to 11, in the Don district 18 to 29, and in the Caucasus 1 to 5. The statistics here, however, show clearly that the strength of Bolshevism was always in an inverse ratio to the strength of the local Jewish population.[62]

Another important piece of evidence is to be found in the attitude of the Jewish "Bund," which is the main organisation of Jewish workmen in Poland and the Pale of Settlement. From the beginning of the Russian Revolution the "Bund," avowedly Socialist, threw all its strength on the side of the Mensheviks. The most passionate struggles in the Congress of Soviets in 1917 were those waged between Lenin, on behalf of the Bolsheviks, and Liber, the "Bund" leader, on behalf of the Mensheviks. Liber and his colleague Dahn were at that time among the staunchest supporters of the policy of the Entente in Russia. To this day the great majority of the members of the "Bund" have remained anti-Bolshevist in doctrine, although under the pressure of the administration and for other political reasons which have appealed equally to many ex-Tsarist generals and Christian Conservatives, they have lately pledged their allegiance to the Lenin regime. In political thought they are still numbered among the most ardent supporters of the great coalition of Russian Mensheviks, which has its headquarters in Stockholm, and—another significant fact—is captained by a Jew, the well-known Socialist writer Paul Axelrod. There are probably quite as many Jewish leaders in the anti-Bolshevist coalition as there are Jewish Commissaries among the Bolsheviks.

Nor are the upper and middle-classes of Russian and Polish Jewry merely passive spectators of the struggle. Politically they belong in an overwhelming proportion to the moderate Liberal party known as the Cadets, and many of them are active in the councils and Press of that party. The present leader of the Cadets, who succeeded Professor Miliukoff, after his unhappy but temporary defection from the cause of the Entente, is the distinguished Jewish lawyer M. Vinaver, equally conspicuous for his devotion to his co-religionists and the cause of ordered liberty in Russia. Admiral Koltchak and General Denikin, in spite of their compromising anti-Semitic associates, had no more strenuous supporter and no wiser counsellor than M. Vinaver. Another eminent Jew who may frequently be seen in consultation with MM. Sazonoff and Maklakoff at the Russian Delegation in Paris is Baron Alexandre de Gunzburg, at one time the most conspicuous member of the Jewish Community in Petrograd.

The anti-Semitic impression that Bolshevism is largely Jewish is, however, not altogether a bad dream, but rather an optical delusion which has been maliciously exaggerated. The so-called Jewish Bolsheviks are, indeed, a corps of officers without an army, and the anti-Semites have a little too hastily inferred the army. Even then these officers are not of the first rank. We have heard a great deal of "Jewish Commissars," and I find a notorious German anti-Semitic book quoting Mr. Robert Wilton, of the Times, as its authority for the statement that "of 384 People's Commissars who constitute the Government only 13 are Russians, while 300 are Jews."[63] What are the facts? The only officials in Soviet Russia who are authorised to hold the rank of People's Commissars are the members of the Cabinet.[64] These number 17,[65] and of them 16 are indisputably Gentiles, while only one—Trotsky—is of Jewish birth. And Trotsky, be it remembered, is a Jew who has publicly abjured the Jewish and all other religions, and who is so little a Jew in other respects that at the Socialist Congresses at the beginning of the century he led the cosmopolitans in denunciation of the Jewish Nationalism of the Bund. To describe Russian Bolshevism as Jewish because one member of Lenin's Council of People's Commissars is an apostate Jew is obviously ludicrous. Lenin might far more justly describe the anti-Bolshevism of Western Europe as Jewish because two years ago the French Cabinet contained one professing Jew and the British two. The other so-called Jewish Commissars are all men of the second and lower ranks of officials belonging exclusively either to the Civil Service or the Soviet analogue of our municipal life. They are probably fairly numerous, but in what may be called the second rank they do not number more than ten at the outside.[66] The others may or may not be convinced Bolsheviks. They are servants of the State who may have many other motives for serving the Soviets than an enthusiasm for Lenin's politics. Not every head of a Government Department or Chairman of a County Council in England is to-day necessarily a Lloyd Georgian. Trotsky has in his War Office and Corps of Officers probably as many ex-Tsarist officers—including sixteen Generals[67]—as there are "Jewish Commissars" in the whole Soviet Administration. And yet nobody dreams of describing the Red Legions as a Tsarist army. These officers are probably not even Bolsheviks. If we could know their motives we should probably find that they were not very widely different from those which actuate the "Jewish Commissars."

All this is not to say that there are no professing Jews in the Bolshevist ranks, or that the number of indifferent and apostate Jews who have thrown in their lot with the Soviets is quite negligible. What is contended is that normally the Jew is intensely anti-pathetic to Bolshevism, and that at the beginning of the Revolution relatively very few Jews—even of those who are Jews by race only—rallied to the call of Lenin. That this situation has changed during the last year is not improbable. But with whom does the blame rest? If Jews have reluctantly turned towards Bolshevism, it is because they have been forced into it by the anti-Bolsheviks. They cannot but be alarmed by the persistency and passion with which the charge of Bolshevism is levelled at them, and the threats which come from all sides to avenge in their persons the sins of Lenin and Trotsky. They have had a bloody instalment of this St. Bartholomew in the pogroms of the Polish borderlands and the Ukrainian plains. What wonder, then, if some of them—and they can only be relatively very few—turn for protection to the Soviets, especially in the lands where the Soviets rule? Nevertheless, their aversion from Bolshevism in theory and practice remains, and is, indeed, for the great majority of them insuperable.

One word in conclusion. If some of the charges against the Jews which have been examined in the foregoing pages were not so utterly unfounded as they prove to be, ample explanation and excuse might be found in the high and sustained tragedy of Jewish history. When in 1848 Ludwig Boerne was reproached by a political colleague with the excessiveness of his revolutionary zeal, he replied: "I was born a slave, and hence I love freedom better than you do." Twenty centuries of a terrible oppression has made of the Jews in Europe an element of no small importance in all the struggles for popular liberties, but throughout it all they have always remained a relatively conservative force. This is most strikingly exemplified by their career in the Russian Revolution. Human nature being what it is, it would not have been surprising if all the Jews in Russia had become fanatical Bolsheviks. The extravagances of Bolshevism are the natural reaction against the cruelties of Tsarism, and the Jews suffered more bitterly from those cruelties than any other section of the sorely tried Russian people. And yet their innate moderation—what Disraeli rightly diagnosed as their ineradicable attachment to Religion and Property—has prevailed, and even among the lower classes, who were proletariatised and driven to Socialism by the infamous May Laws,[68] Bolshevism has found only few and reluctant recruits. The Jews, no doubt, have their defects, very much in the same way as Christians, but what Mr. Gladstone once called "incivism" is not one of them.

[53] Morning Post articles on "The Cause of World Unrest," passim. See particularly July 21, 1920.
[54] Semenoff, op. cit.
[55] The chief members of this Society, which is as Anglophobe as it is Judeophobe, are a brother of General Von Below and the renegade Houston Stewart Chamberlain.
[56] S. Poliakoff in La Tribune Juive (Paris), No. 21.
[57] Der Betrug am Deutschen Volke (Munich, 1919).
[58] Supra, p. 6.
[59] It provoked an excellent reply by "Un Russe" entitled Bolchevisme et Judaisme (Paris, 1919).
[60] See on this subject the elaborate analysis of the two teachings in Mautner, op. cit., pp. 120-296.
[61] Mautner (p. 95) and Landau-Aldanov (pp. 31-32), op. cit.
[62] Report of the Commissar for National Economy reprinted from the Novaya Shisn in the Bote (Stockholm), Dec. 6, 1917.
[63] Meister, op. cit., p. 192.
[64] "Constitution of the Russian Soviet Republic," Article 48.
[65] Ibid., Article 43.
[66] As the result of a careful analysis M. Poliakoff gives their names as follows: Zinovieff, Radek, Sverdloff, Steklof-Nakhamkes, Litvinoff, Larine, Kameneff, Ganetzki-Furstenberg, Joffe and Ounitzky. Of these two are dead and one is only a half-Jew (La Tribune Juive, Dec. 26, 1919).
[67] Ibid., gives full list.
[68] See Prof. A.V. Dicey's introduction to "The Legal Sufferings of the Jews in Russia" (Lond., 1912).