The Jewish Question, from "The Diary of a Writer", by Feodor

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Jewish Question, from "The Diary of a Writer", by Feodor

Postby admin » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:54 am

The Jewish Question, from "The Diary of a Writer"
by Feodor Dostoievsky



CHAPTER II: "The Jewish Question"

OH, PLEASE don't think that I mean to raise "the Jewish question"! I wrote the title jestingly. To raise a question of such magnitude as the status of the Jew in Russia, and the status of Russia which among her sons has three million Jews -- is beyond my power. The question exceeds my limits. Still, I can have a certain opinion of my own, and it now appears that some Jews begin to take interest in it. For some time I have been receiving letters from them in which they seriously and with bitterness have reproached me for the fact that I am attacking them that "I hate the Yiddisher," that I hate him not for his vices. "not, as an exploiter," but specifically as a race, i.e., somewhat along the line that "Judas sold out Christ." This is being written by "educated" Jews, meaning, by such ones as (this I have noticed, but by no means do I generalize my remark, and this I am emphasizing in advance) always, as it were, endeavor to advise you that because of their education, they long ago ceased to share "the prejudices" of their nation; that they do not comply with their religious rituals, like other petty Jews; that they deem this below the level of their enlightenment, and that, besides, they do not believe in God.

I shall observe, parenthetically, that to all those gentlemen from among the "top Jews" who are such staunch advocates of their nation, it is much too sinful to forget their forty-century-old Jehovah and to renounce him. And this is sinful not only because of national sentiment but likewise for other momentous reasons. And strangely: a Jew without God is somehow inconceivable; a Jew without God cannot be imagined. However, this is a vast theme and for the time being we shall leave it aside.

The thing that surprises me most is how, on what grounds, have I been classed as a hater of Jews as a people, as a nation? To a certain extent I am permitted by these gentlemen themselves to condemn the Jew as an exploiter and for some of his vices, but only ostensibly: in fact, it is difficult to find anything more irritable and susceptible than the educated Jew, more touchy than he, as a Jew. But, again, when and how did I declare hate against the Jews as a people? -- Since there never has been such a hatred in my heart, and those Jews who are acquainted with me and have dealt with me know it, from the very outset and before I say a word I withdraw from myself this accusation, once and forever, so as not to make special mention of it later.

Am I not accused of hatred because sometimes I called the Jew "Yiddisher"? But, in the first place, I did not think that this is so abusive and secondly, as far as I can remember, I have always used the word "Yiddisher" in order to denote a certain idea: "Yiddisher, Yiddishism, Yiddish reign," etc. This denotes a certain conception, orientation, characteristic of the age. One may argue about this idea, and disagree with it, but one shouldn't feel offended by a word.

I shall quote certain passages from a long, and in many respects, beautiful letter, addressed to me by a highly educated Jew, which aroused in me great interest. It is one of the most typical accusations of my hatred of the Jew, as a people. It goes without saying that the name of Mr. N. K., the author of this letter, is kept strictly anonymous.

". . . But I intend to touch upon a subject which most decidedly I am unable to explain to myself: this is your hatred of the 'Yiddisher' which is revealed virtually in every issue of your Diary.

"I should like to know why are you protesting against the Yiddisher and not the exploiter in general? I, not less than you, cannot tolerate the prejudices of my nation, -- not little have I suffered from these -- but I shall never concede that there dwells shameless exploitation in the blood of this nation.

"Is it possible that you are unable to lift yourself to the comprehension of the fundamental law of any social life to the effect that all citizens of a state, without any exception, if they are paying all taxes required for the existence of the state, must enjoy all rights and advantages of its existence, and that for the violators of the law, the harmful members of the society, there must be one and the same measure of punishment, common to all? . . . Why, then, should all the Jews be restricted in their rights, and why should special penal laws exist for them? In what manner is alien exploitation (the Jews are nevertheless Russian subjects) by Germans, Englishmen, Greeks, of whom there is so great a number in Russia, better than Yiddish exploitation? In what way is the Russian Orthodox kulak, peasant-exploiter, inn-keeper, blood-sucker, who has propagated so profusely all over Russia; better than the one from among Yiddishers, who nevertheless is operating within a limited area? Why is this one better than the other? . . ."

[At this juncture my esteemed correspondent compares several notorious Russian kulaks with Jewish ones in the sense that the Russians are just as bad. But what does this prove? Indeed, we take no pride in our kulaks and we do not set them as examples for imitation, and on the contrary we agree wholeheartedly that both are no good.]

"I could propound to you such questions by the thousand.

"Meanwhile, speaking about the 'Yiddisher,' you include in this term the whole terribly destitute mass of the three-million Jewish population in Russia, of which at least 2,900,000 are engaged in a desperate struggle for existence, a mass which is morally purer not only than the other nationalities but also than the Russian people deified by you. Likewise, you have included in this term that considerable number of Jews with higher education who are distinguishing themselves in all fields of state life. Take, for instance.... "

[Here there are again several names which, with the exception of that of Goldstein, I do not deem myself entitled to print, since some of them perhaps would be displeased to read that they are of Jewish origin.]

"Take, for example, Goldstein [who died heroically in Serbia for the Slavic idea] and those who labor for the good of society and of mankind. Your hate of the 'Yid' extends even to Disraeli ... who, probably, knows not himself that his ancestors some time in the past were Spanish Jews, and who, of course, does not direct English conservative policy from the standpoint of a 'Yiddisher.'

"No, unfortunately, you know neither the Jewish people nor their life -- neither their spirit nor, finally, their forty-century history; Unfortunately -- because you are, at any rate, a sincere, absolutely sincere, man; yet, unconsciously you are causing harm to an enormous mass of destitute people, whereas influential 'Yids' who receive in their salons the potent ones of this world, naturally, are afraid of neither the press nor even the impotent wrath of the exploited. But enough has been said on this subject. Hardly will I sway you to my view, but I am very anxious that you should convince me."

Such are the excerpts. Before I answer anything (because I don't want to bear so grave an accusation) I shall call attention to the vehemence of the attack and the degree of touchiness. Positively, during the whole year of the publication of my Diary there has been no slur against the "Yiddisher" of such dimensions as would justify so strong an attack. Secondly, it should be also observed that my esteemed correspondent, having also touched in these few lines of his upon the Russian people, could not bear, could not refrain from adopting toward the poor Russian people a somewhat too haughty attitude. True, in Russia even Russians have not left a spot not bespat (Schedrin's expression), so it is all the more excusable for a Jew. However, in any event, this animus clearly shows how the Jews themselves look upon the Russians. Indeed, this was written by an educated and talented man (only I don't think that he is devoid of prejudices). What, then, should one be expecting from uneducated Jews, of whom there are so many, -- what sentiments for the Russian? I am not saying this accusingly: all this is natural! I wish only to indicate that for the motives of our disagreement with the Jew, perhaps not only the Russian should be held responsible, and that, of course, these motives have accumulated on either side, and it is a question -- on which side more.

Having noted the above, I shall say a few words in my defense, and generally, as to how I view this matter. And even though as stated, this question is beyond my capacity, nevertheless I too can express at least something.


True, it is very difficult to learn the forty-century-long history of a people such as the Jews; but, to start with, this much I know, that in the whole world there is certainly no other people who would be complaining as much about their lot, incessantly, after each step and word of theirs, -- about their humiliation, their suffering, their martyrdom. One might think that it is not they who are reigning in Europe, who are directing there at least the stock-exchanges, and therefore politics, domestic affairs, the morality of the states. Let noble Goldstein be dying for the Slavic idea. Even so, if the Jewish idea in the world had not been so strong, maybe, that very "Slavic" question (of last year) would long ago have been settled in favor of the Slavs, and not of the Turks.

I am ready to believe that Lord Beaconsfield has, perhaps, forgotten about his descent -- some time in the past -- from Spanish Yiddishers (for sure, however, he hasn't forgotten); but that during last year he did "direct English conservative policy" partly from the standpoint of a Yid is, in my opinion, impossible to doubt. "Partly" -- cannot but be admitted.

But let all this be merely verbalism on my part, -- light tone and light words. I concede. Nevertheless, I am unable fully to believe in the screams of the Jews that they are so downtrodden, oppressed and humiliated. In my opinion, the Russian peasant, and generally, the Russian commoner, virtually bears heavier burdens than the Jew. In another letter my correspondent writes me:

"In the first place it is necessary to grant them [the Jews]. all civil rights (think, up to now they are deprived of the most fundamental right -- of free selection of the place of residence, which leads to a multitude of awful restrictions for the whole Jewish mass) as to all other alien nationalities in Russia, and only after that may it be demanded from them that they comply with their duties toward the state and the native population."

But Mr. Correspondent, you who write me in the same letter, on the next page, that you "are far more devoted to, and pity more, the toiling mass of the Russian people, than the Jewish mass" (which, to be sure, for a Jew, is too strongly expressed) you, too, should remember that at the time when the Jew "has been restricted in the free selection of the place of residence," twenty-three millions of "the Russian toiling mass" have been enduring serfdom which was, of course, more burdensome than "the selection of the place of residence." Now, did the Jews pity them then? -- I don't think so: in the Western border region and in the South you will get a comprehensive answer to this question. Nay, at that time the Jews also vociferated about rights which the Russian people themselves did not have; they shouted and complained that they were downtrodden and martyrs, and that when they should be granted more rights, "then demand from us that we comply with the duties toward the state and the native population."

But then came the Liberator and liberated the native people. And who was the first to fall upon them as on a victim? Who preeminently took advantage of their vices? Who tied them with that sempiternal gold pursuit of theirs? By whom -- whenever possible -- were the abolished landowners promptly replaced, with the difference that the latter, even though they did strongly exploit men, nevertheless endeavored -- perhaps in their own interest -- not to ruin the peasants in order to prevent the exhaustion of labor, whereas the Jew is not concerned about the exhaustion of Russian labor: he grabs what's his, and off he goes.

I know that upon reading this, the Jews will forthwith start screaming that this is a lie; that this is a calumny; that I am lying; that I believe all this nonsense because I "do not know the forty-century-old history of these chaste angels who are incomparably purer morally not only than the other nationalities but also, than the Russian people deified by me (according to the words of my correspondent. See above).

But let let them be morally purer than all the peoples of the world, nevertheless I have just read in the March issue of The Messenger of Europe a news item to the effect that in America, in the Southern States, they have already leaped en masse upon the millions of liberated Negroes, and have already taken a grip upon them in their, the Jews', own way, by means of their sempiternal "gold pursuit" and by taking advantage of the inexperience and vices of the exploited tribe. Imagine, when I read this, I immediately recalled that the same thing came to my mind five years ago, specifically; that the Negroes have now been liberated from the slaveowners, but that they will not last because the Jews, of whom there are so many in the world, will jump at this new little victim. This came to my mind, and I assure you that several times during this interim I was asking myself: "Well, why doesn't one hear anything about the Jews there; why do not newspapers write about them, because the Negroes are a treasure for the Jews; is it possible that they would miss it?" And at last my expectation came true, the newspapers have written it up, -- I read it.

Now, some ten days ago I read in The New Times (No. 371) a most characteristic communication from Kovno to the effect that: "the Jews there have so assaulted the local Lithuanian population, that they almost ruined all of them with vodka, and only the Roman Catholic priests began to save the poor drunkards threatening them with the tortures of hell and organizing temperance societies. True the enlightened correspondent strongly blushes on behalf of his population which still believes in its priests and in the tortures of hell but he adds in this connection that following the example of the priests, enlightened local economists began to establish rural banks specifically with the object of saving the people from the Jew -- the money lender, and also rural markets where "the destitute toiling mass" could buy articles of first necessity at real prices, and not at those set by the Jew.

Well, I have read all this, and I know that instantly people will start shouting that this proves nothing; that all this is caused by the fact that the Jews themselves are oppressed; that they are poor themselves; that all this is but a "struggle for existence"; that only a fool would fail to understand it, and that were the Jews not so destitute themselves, were they, contrariwise, to grow rich, -- they would instantly reveal themselves in a most humane light so that the whole world would be astounded. However, it goes without saying that all those Negroes and Lithuanians are even poorer than the Jews who are squeezing the sap out of them, and yet, the former (only read the correspondence) loathe the kind of trade for which the Jew is so eager.

Secondly, it is not difficult to be humane and moral when one rolls in butter, but the moment "the struggle for existence" comes into play, -- don't you dare reproach me. To my way of thinking, this is not a very angelic trait.

Third, of course, I am not setting forth these two news items from The Messenger of Europe and The New Times as capital and all-decisive facts. If one should start writing the history of this universal tribe, it would at once be possible to discover a hundred thousand of analogous and even more important facts, so that one or two additional facts would mean nothing in particular. However, it is curious in this connection that the moment you should require -- say, in the course of an argument or in a minute of silent irresolution -- information about the Jew and his doings, -- don't go to public libraries; don't ransack old books or your own old notes; don't labor, don't search, don't exert your efforts, instead, without leaving your chair, stretch out your hand to any newspaper at random which happens to be near you, and look at the second or third page: unfailingly, you will find something about Jews, and unfailingly -- that which interests you; unfailingly -- that which is most characteristic, and unfailingly -- one and the same thing, i.e., -- the same exploits!

Now, concede that this does mean something; it does indicate and reveal to you something, even though you be an absolute ignoramus in the forty-century-long history of this tribe. No question, I will be told that everybody is hatred-stricken, and therefore everybody is lying. Of course, it may happen that everyone to the last man is lying; but if this be so, there arises at once a new question: if everybody without exception is lying and hatred-stricken, whence did this hatred arise? Since this universal hatred does mean something; as Bielinsky exclaimed once: "indeed, the word everybody does mean something!"

"Free selection of the place of residence!" But is the "native" Russian absolutely free in the choice of the place of residence? Is it not true that also in the case of the Russian commoner, up to the present, the former restrictions in the complete freedom of the selection of the place of residence continue to persist, -- those undesirable restrictions which are survivals of the times of serfdom and which have long been attracting the attention of the government? And as far as Jews are concerned, it is apparent to everybody that in the last twenty years their rights in the selection of the place of residence have been very considerably expanded. At least, they have appeared throughout Russia in places where they have not been seen before. However, the Jews keep complaining of hatred and restrictions.

Let it be conceded that I am not firm in my knowledge of the Jewish modes of living, but one thing I do know for sure, and I am ready to argue about it with anyone, namely, that among our common people there is no preconceived, a priori, blunt religious hatred of the Jew, something along the lines: "Judas sold out Christ." Even if one hears it from little children or drunken persons, nevertheless our people as a whole look upon the Jew, I repeat, without a preconceived hatred. I have been observing this for fifty years. I even happened to live among the people, in their very midst, in one and the same barracks, sleeping with them on the same cots. There there were several Jews, and no one despised them, no one shunned them or persecuted them. When they said their prayers (and Jews pray with screams donning a special garment) nobody found this strange, no one hindered them or scoffed at them, -- a fact which precisely was to be expected from such a coarse people -- in your estimation -- as the Russians. On the contrary, when beholding them, they used to say: "such is their religion, and thus they pray"; and would pass by calmly, almost approvingly.

And yet these same Jews in many respects shunned the Russians, they refused to take meals with them, looked upon them with haughtiness (and where? -- in a prison!) and generally expressed squeamishness and aversion towards the Russian, towards the "native" people. The same is true in the case of soldiers' armories, and everywhere -- all over Russia: make inquiries, ask if a Jew, as a Jew, as a Yiddisher, is being abused in armories because of his faith, his customs. Nowhere is he being abused, and that is also true of the people at large. On the contrary, I assure you that in armories, as elsewhere the Russian commoner perceives and understands only too well (besides, the Jews themselves do not conceal it) that the Jew does not want to take meals with him, that he has an aversion toward him, seeking as much as possible to avoid him and segregate himself from him. And yet, instead of feeling hurt, the Russian commoner calmly and clearly says: "such is his religion; it is because of his faith that he does not take meals with me and shuns me" (i.e., not because he is spiteful). And having comprehended this supreme cause, he wholeheartedly forgives the Jew.

However, at times, I was fancying: now, how would it be if in Russia there were not three million Jews, but three million Russians, and there were eighty million Jews, -- well into what would they convert the Russians and how would they treat them? Would they permit them to acquire equal rights? Would. they permit them to worship freely in their midst? Wouldn't they convert them into slaves? Worse than that: wouldn't they skin them altogether?, Wouldn't they slaughter them to the last man, to the point of complete extermination, as they used to do with alien peoples in ancient times, during their ancient history?

Nay, I assure you that in the Russian people there is no preconceived hatred of the Jew, but perhaps there is a dislike of him, and especially in certain localities, maybe -- a strong dislike. Oh, this cannot be avoided; this exists; but it arises not at all from the fact that he is a Jew, not because of some racial or religious hate, but it comes from other causes of which not the native people but the Jew himself is guilty.


Hatred, and besides one caused by prejudice -- this is what the Jews are accusing the native population of. However, if the point concerning prejudices has been raised, what do you think: does the Jew have fewer prejudices against the Russian than the latter against the Jew? Hasn't he more of them? -- I have given you examples of the attitude of the Russian common people toward the Jew. And here I have before me letters from Jews, and not from common ones, but from educated Jews. And so much hatred in these letters against "the native population"! And the main thing is: they write without realizing it themselves.

You see, in order to exist forty centuries on earth: i.e., virtually the entire historical period of mankind, and besides, in such a close and unbroken unity; in order to lose so many times one's territory, one's political independence, laws, almost one's religion, -- to lose, and again to unite each time, to regenerate in the former idea, though in a different guise, to create anew laws and almost religion -- nay, such a viable people, such an extraordinarily strong and energetic people, such an unprecedented people in the world, could not have existed without status in statu which they have always and everywhere preserved at the time of their most dreadful, thousand, long dispersions and persecutions. Speaking of status in statu, I am by no means seeking to frame an accusation. Still, what is the meaning of this status in statu? What is its eternal, immutable idea? Wherein is the essence of this idea?

It would be too long and impossible to expound this in a brief article; besides, it would be impossible for the same reason that, despite the forty centuries, not all times and seasons have arrived, and mankind's last word on this great tribe is still to come. However, without fathoming the essence and depth of the subject, it is possible to outline, at least, certain symptoms of that status in statu, -- be it only externally. These symptoms are: alienation and estrangement in the matter of religious dogma; the impossibility of fusion; belief that in the world there exists but one national entity -- the Jew, while, even though other entities exist, nevertheless it should be presumed that they are, as it were, nonexistent. "Step out of the family of nations, and form your own entity, and thou shalt know that henceforth thou art the only one before God; exterminate the rest, or make slaves of them, or exploit them. Have faith in the conquest of the whole world; adhere to the belief that everything will submit to thee. Loathe strictly everything, and do not have intercourse with anyone in thy mode of living. And even when thou shalt lose the land, thy political individuality, even when thou shalt be dispersed all over the face of the earth, amidst all nations, -- never mind, have faith in everything that has been promised thee, once and forever; believe that all this will come to pass, and meanwhile live, loathe, unite and exploit, and -- wait, wait...."

Such is the essence of that status in statu, and, in addition, there are, of course, inner and, perhaps, mysterious laws guarding this idea.

You say, gentlemen -- educated Jews and opponents -- that all this is certainly nonsense, and that even if there be a status in statu (i.e., there has been, but at present, according to them, only the dimmest traces of it remain), it is solely because persecution has brought it about; religious persecution since the Middle Ages, and even earlier, has generated it, and that this status in statu came into existence merely from the instinct of self-preservation. However, if it continues, especially in Russia, it is because the Jew has not yet been given equal rights with the native population.

But this is how I feel: should the Jew be given equal rights, under no circumstance would he renounce his status in statu. Moreover, to attribute it to nothing but persecution and the instinct of self-preservation -- is insufficient. Besides, there would not have been enough tenacity in store for self-preservation during forty centuries; the people would have grown weary of preserving themselves for so long a time. Even the strongest civilizations in the world have failed to survive half of the forty centuries, losing their political strength and racial countenance. Here it is not only self-preservation that constitutes the main cause, but a certain compelling and luring idea, something so universal and profound that on it, as stated above, mankind is perhaps still unable to utter its last word. That we are here dealing with something of a pre-eminently religious character -- there can be no doubt. That their Providence, under the former, initial name of Jehovah, with his ideal and his covenant, continues to lead his people toward a firm goal -- this much is clear. Besides, I repeat, it is impossible to conceive a Jew without God. Moreover, I do not believe in the existence of atheists even among the educated Jews: they all are of the same substance, and God only knows what the world has to expect from the educated jews! Even in my childhood I have read and heard a legend about Jews to the effect that they are supposed to be undeviatingly awaiting the Messiah, all of them, both the lowest Yiddisher and the highest and most learned one -- the philosopher and the cabalist -- rabbi; that they all believe that the Messiah will again unite them in Jerusalem and will bring by his sword all nations to their feet; that this is the reason why the overwhelming majority of the Jews have a predilection but for one profession -- the trade in gold, and at the utmost -- for goldsmithery; and all this, so it is alleged, in order, that, when Messiah comes, they should not need to have a new fatherland and to be tied to the land of aliens in their, the Jews' possession, but to have everything converted into gold and jewels, so that it will be easier to carry them away when

The ray of dawn begins to shine:
Our flute, our tabor and the cymbal,
Our riches and our holy symbol
We will bring back to our old shrine,
To our old home -- to Palestine.

All this -- I repeat -- I heard as a legend, but I believe that the substance of the matter unfailingly is there, in the form of an instinctively irresistible tendency. But in order that such a substance of the matter might be preserved, it is, of course, necessary that the strictest status in statu be preserved. And it is being preserved. Thus, not only persecution was and is its cause, but another idea....

If, however, among the Jews there exists in reality such an inner rigid organization as united them into something solid and segregated, one almost may well give thought to the question whether equal rights with the native population should be granted to them.

It goes without saying that everything required by humaneness and justice, everything called for by compassion and the Christian law must be done for the Jews. But should they, in full armor of their organization and their segregation, their racial and religious detachment; in complete armor of their regulations and principles utterly opposed to that idea abiding by which the whole European world, at least up to the present time, has been developing; -- should they demand complete equalization in all possible rights with the native population, wouldn't they then be granted something greater, something excessive, something sovereign compared with the native population?

At this juncture, the Jews will, of course point to other aliens: "now, these have been granted equal, or almost equal, rights, whereas the Jews have fewer rights than all other aliens; and this  -- because people are afraid of us, Jews: because we are supposedly more harmful than all other aliens. And yet in what sense is the Jew harmful? Even if there be bad qualities in the Jewish people, this is solely because these are being fostered by the Russian people themselves -- by Russian ignorance, by the Russians' unfitness for independence, by their low economic development. The Russian people themselves demand a mediator, a leader, an economic warden in business, a creditor; they themselves are inviting him and surrendering themselves to him. On the contrary, look at things in Europe: there the nations are strong and independent in spirit; they are peoples with strong national sentiment, with a long-standing habit and skill for work, and there they are not afraid to grant all rights to the Jew! Does one hear in France anything about the harm resulting from status in statu of the local Jews?"

Apparently, this is a strong line of reasoning; however, in this connection there arises in one's mind a notion -- in parentheses, namely: Thus, Jewry is thriving precisely there where the people are still ignorant, or not free, or economically backward. It is there that Jewry has a champ libre! And instead of raising, by its influence, the level of education, instead of increasing knowledge, generating economic fitness in the native population, -- instead of this, the Jew, wherever he has settled, has still more humiliated and debauched the people; there humaneness was still more debased and the educational level fell still lower; there inescapable, inhuman misery, and with it despair, spread still more disgustingly. Ask the native population in our border regions: What is propelling the Jew -- has been propelling him for centuries? You will receive a unanimous answer: mercilessness. "He has been prompted so many centuries only by pitilessness for us, only by the thirst for our sweat and blood."

And, in truth, the whole activity of the Jews in these border regions of ours consisted of rendering the native population as much as possible inescapably dependent on them, taking advantage of the local laws. They always managed to be on friendly terms with those upon whom the people were dependent, and, certainly it is not for them to complain, at least in this respect, about their restricted rights compared with the native population. They have received from us enough of such rights over the native population. What, in the course of decades and centuries, has become of the Russian people where the Jews settled is attested by the history of our border regions. What, then? -- Point to any other tribe from among Russian aliens which could rival the Jew by his dreadful influence in this connection! You will find no such tribe. In this respect the Jew preserves all his originality as compared with other Russian aliens, and, of course, the reason therefor is that status in statu of his, the spirit of which specifically breathes with pitilessness for everything that is not Jew, with disrespect for any people and tribe, for every human creature who is not a Jew. And what kind of justification is it that in Western Europe the nations did not permit themselves to be overwhelmed, and that thus the Russian people themselves are at fault? Because the Russian people in the border regions of Russia proved weaker than the European nations (and exclusively as a result of their secular cruel political circumstances), for this sole reason should they be completely crushed by exploitation, instead of being helped?

And if reference is made to Europe, to France, for example, -- there too, hardly has their status in statu been harmless. Of course, there, Christianity and its idea have been lowered and are sinking not because of the Jew's fault, but through their own fault. nevertheless, it is impossible not to note also in Europe the great triumph of Jewry which has replaced many former ideas with its own.

Oh, it goes without saying that man always, at all times, has been worshipping materialism and has been inclined to perceive and understand liberty only in the sense of making his life secure through money hoarded by the exertion of every effort and accumulated by all possible means. However, at no time in the past have these tendencies been raised so cynically and so obviously to the level of a sublime principle as in our Nineteenth Century. "Everybody for himself, and only for himself, and every intercourse with man solely for one's self" -- such is the ethical tenet of the majority of present-day people, [1] even not bad people but on the contrary, laboring people who neither murder nor steal. And mercilessness for the lower classes, the decline of brotherhood, exploitation of the poor by the rich, -- oh, of course, all this existed, also before and always; however, it had not been raised to the level of supreme truth and of science -- it had been condemned by Christianity, whereas at present, on the contrary, it is being regarded as virtue.

Thus, it is not for nothing that over there the Jews are reigning everywhere over stock-exchanges; it is not for nothing that they control capital, that they are the masters of credit, and it is not for nothing -- I repeat -- that they are also the masters of international politics, and what is going to happen in the future is known to the Jews themselves: their reign, their complete reign is approaching! We are approaching the complete triumph of ideas before which sentiments of humanity, thirst for truth, Christian and national feelings, and even those of national dignity, must bow. On the contrary, we are approaching materialism, a blind, carnivorous craving for personal material welfare, a craving for personal accumulation of money by any means -- this is all that has been proclaimed as the supreme aim, as the reasonable thing, as liberty, in lieu of the Christian idea of salvation only through the closest moral and brotherly fellowship of men.

People will laugh and say that this is not all brought about by the Jews. Of course, not only by them, but if the Jews have completely triumphed and thriven in Europe precisely at the time when these new principles have triumphed there to the point of having been raised to the level of a moral principle, it is impossible not to infer that the Jews, too, have contributed their influence to this condition. Our opponents point out that, on the contrary, the Jews are poor, poor even everywhere, especially in Russia; that only the very summit of the Jews is rich -- bankers and kings of stock-exchanges -- while the rest, virtually nine-tenths of the Jews, are literally beggars, running about for a piece of bread, offering commissions and anxiously looking for an opportunity to snatch somewhere a penny for bread. Yes, this seems to be so, but what does this signify: Does it not specifically mean that in the very toil of the Jews (i.e., at least, their overwhelming majority), in their very exploitation there is something wrong, abnormal, something unnatural carrying in itself retribution. The Jew is offering his interposition, he is trading in another man's labor. Capital is accumulated labor; the Jew loves to trade in somebody else's labor! But, temporarily, this changes nothing. As against this, the summit of the Jews is assuming stronger and firmer power over mankind seeking to convey to it its image and substance. Jews keep vociferating that among them, too, there are good people. Oh, God! Is this the point? -- Besides, we are speaking not about good or bad people. And aren't there good people among those? Wasn't the late James Rothschild of Paris a good man? -- We are speaking about the whole and its idea; we are speaking about Judaism and the Jewish idea which is clasping the whole world instead of Christianity which "did not succeed." ...


But what am I talking about and what for? Or am I an enemy of the Jews? Indeed, is it true, as a noble and educated Jewish girl writes me (of this i have no doubt -- this can be perceived from the letter, from the ardent sentiments expressed in this letter), is it true that I am -- to use her words -- an enemy of this "unfortunate" tribe which I am "so cruelly attacking on every opportune occasion." "Your contempt for the Jewish tribe which 'thinks about nothing except itself,' etc., is obvious." Nay, I protest against this obviousness, and besides, I deny the fact itself. On the contrary, I am saying and writing that "everything required by humanness and justice, everything called for by compassion and the Christian law, -- all this must be done for the Jews." These words were written by me above, but now I will add to them that despite all considerations already set forth by me, I am decidedly favoring full extension of Jewish rights in formal legislation, and, if possible, fullest equality with the native population (N.B., although, perhaps, in certain cases, even now they have more rights, or -- to put it better -- more possibilities of exercising them than the native population itself).

Of course, the following fantasy, for instance, comes to my mind: "Now, what if somehow, for some reason, our rural commune should disintegrate, that commune which is protecting our poor native peasant against so many ills; what if, straightway, the Jew, and his whole kehillah should fall upon that liberated peasant, -- so inexperienced, so incapable of resisting temptation, and who up to this time has been guarded precisely by the commune? -- Why, of course: instantly, this would be his end; his entire property, his whole strength, the very next day, would come under the power of the Jew, and there would ensue such an era as could be compared not only with the era of serfdom but even with that of the Tartar yoke."

Despite all the "fantasies" and everything I have written above, however, I favor full and complete equalization of rights because such is Christ's law, such is the Christian principle. But if so, what was the point of writing so many pages, and what did I intend to express if I am so contradicting myself? -- Specifically, the fact that I am not contradicting myself, and that from the Russian native side I see no difficulties in extending Jewish rights; I do however assert that these obstacles are incomparably greater on the part of the Jews than on the part of the Russians, and that if up to the present the thing which one wishes wholeheartedly has not come to pass, the blame therefor is infinitely less on the Russian than on the Jew himself. Similarly what I was telling about the common Jew who refuses to maintain intercourse and share his meals with the Russians who were not angry with him, who did not retaliate but, on the contrary, at once grasped the situation and forgave him, saying: "this is because such is his religion," -- similarly this we often perceive in the intelligent Jew -- a boundless and haughty prejudice against the Russian.

Oh they do shout that they are fond of the Russian people; one of them even wrote me that he was sorry that the Russian people were devoid of religion and understood nothing in their Christianity. This is too strongly put for a Jew, and there merely arises this question: Does this highly educated Jew himself understand anything about Christianity? -- But self-conceit and haughtiness are qualities of the Jewish character, which to us Russians, is very painful. Who, as between the two of us -- the Russian or the Jew -- is more incapable of understanding the other? -- I swear, I would rather exonerate the Russian: at least, he has no (positively no) religious hatred of the Jew. And who has more prejudices of other kinds? Now, the Jews keep vociferating that they have been oppressed and persecuted for so many centuries, that they are being oppressed and persecuted at present, and that this much, at least, should be taken into account by the Russian when analyzing the Jewish character. All right, we do take this into account, and this we can prove: among the educated strata of the Russian people on more than one occasion voices have been raised in favor of the Jews. Well, what about the Jews? -- Did they, and do they, take into account, when blaming, and complaining against, the Russians, all the oppression and persecution which the Russian people themselves have endured? Is it possible to maintain that the Russian people, "in the course of their history" have endured fewer misfortunes and ills than the Jews wheresoever it may have been? And is it possible to assert that the Jew very frequently has not allied himself with the persecutors of the Russian people, taking a lease on them from their oppressors, and becoming himself their persecutor? -- Indeed, all this did happen, it did exist; indeed, this is history, an historical fact. But we have never heard that the Jewish people repented for this, and yet they keep accusing the Russian people of the fact that they do not love the Jews enough.

Still, "let it come to pass, let it come to pass!" Let there be full moral unity of the tribes and no discrimination in their rights! And for this purpose, in the first place, I implore my opponents and my Jewish correspondents to be more indulgent and just toward us Russians. If their haughtiness, their perpetual "sad squeamishness" toward the Russian race is merely a prejudice, an historical excrescence, and is not concealed in some much deeper mysteries of their law and organization, -- let all this be dispelled as soon as possible, and let us come together in one spirit, in complete brotherhood, for mutual assistance and for the great cause of serving our land, our state and our fatherland! Let the mutual accusations be mollified; let the customary exaggeration of these accusations, hindering the clear understanding of things, disappear! One can pledge for the Russian people: oh, they will accept the Jew in the fullest brotherhood, despite the difference in religion -- and with perfect respect for the historical fact of such a difference. Nevertheless, for complete brotherhood -- brotherhood on the part of both sides is needed. Let the Jew also show at least some brotherly feeling for the Russian people so as to encourage them. I know that even at present there are plenty of men among the Jewish people who are seeking and craving, for the elimination of the misunderstandings, men who, besides, are humane, and I shall not keep silent on this fact so as to conceal the truth. It is precisely in order that these useful and humane persons should not. grow despondent and low-spirited, and with a view to weakening, at least somewhat, their prejudices, thereby facilitating their first steps, that I should favor a full extension of rights to the Jewish race, at least, as far as possible, specifically, in so far as the-Jewish people themselves prove their ability to accept and make use of these rights without detriment to the native population. It would even be possible to make an advance concession, to make more steps forward on the part of the Russian side. The only question is: to what extent would these new, good Jews succeed and how far are they themselves adapted to the new and beautiful cause of genuine brotherly communion with men who are alien to them by religion and blood?



1. The fundamental idea of the bourgeoisie which, at the end of the last century, took the place of the former concept of a world order -- an idea which has become the focal idea of the present century throughout the whole European world.
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