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Jewish anarchism

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Jewish anarchism is a general term encompassing various expressions of anarchism within the Jewish community.

Secular Jewish Anarchism[edit]

Many Jews, such as Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Martin Buber, Murray Bookchin and Noam Chomsky, have played a role in the history of anarchism. All the members of the first anarchist group in the Russian Empire, which was formed in 1903 in Białystok, were Jews [1].

Fraye Arbeter Shtime, vol 1 no 4, Friday, July 25, 1890.

Jewish anarchists stressed the internationalist character of the movement, but many of them also supported their national culture and focused on specifically Jewish issues. Yiddish anarchist literature florished since 1880s till 1950s and, on much smaller scale, till 1980s; the last Yiddish periodical publication, Problemen was published in 1991. In addition to many original books, pamphlets, poems and essays, all the major works of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, Henry Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Max Stirner and other anarchists were translated into Yiddish. Rudolf Rocker, a non-Jewish German anarchist, had studied Yiddish and authored many Yiddish books, pamphlets and articles. Most Jewish anarchists were anarcho-syndicalists, while a few others were individualist anarchists.

Different anarchist groups had different views on Zionism and the Jewish question. Bernard Lazare was a key figure in both the French anarchist movement and early Zionist movement. The later Territorialist movement, especially the Freeland League, under the leadership of Isaac Nachman Steinberg, was very close to anarchism. Some others, such as Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem, advocated non-nationalist forms of Zionism, and promoted the idea of creating a binational Jewish-Arab federation in Palestine. Many contemporary anarchists support the idea of what has been dubbed the "no-state solution".[2] Noam Chomsky has said that, as an anarchist, he ultimately favours such a no state solution, but in the short term feels a two-state solution is the best way out of the present conflict.[3]

Religious Jewish Anarchism[edit]

Main article: Anarchism and Orthodox Judaism

While many Jewish anarchists were irreligious or sometimes vehemently anti-religious, there were also a few religious anarchists and pro-anarchist thinkers, who combined contemporary radical ideas with traditional Judaism. Some secular anti-authoritarians, such as Abba Gordin and Erich Fromm, also noticed remarkable similarity between anarchism and many Kabbalistic ideas, especially in their Hasidic interpretation. Some Jewish mystical groups were based on anti-authoritarian principles, somewhat similar to the Christian Quakers and Dukhobors. Martin Buber, a deeply religious philosopher, had frequently referred to the Hasidic tradition.

The Orthodox Kabbalist rabbi Yehuda Ashlag believed in a religious version of libertarian communism, based on principles of Kabbalah, which he called altruist communism. Ashlag supported the Kibbutz movement and preached to establish a network of self-ruled internationalist communes, who would eventually 'annul the brute-force regime completely, for “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”', because 'there is nothing more humiliating and degrading for a person than being under the brute-force government'. [1]

A British Orthodox rabbi, Yankev-Meyer Zalkind, was an anarcho-communist and very active anti-militarist. Rabbi Zalkind was a close friend of Rudolf Rocker, a prolific Yiddish writer and a prominent Torah scholar. He argued, that the ethics of the Talmud, if properly understood, is closely related to anarchism [4].

During biblical times as recorded in the book of Samuel (Shmuel) G-d suggests that the people DO NOT take a king like all the other nations and remain in a state of political Anarchy.

Jewish anarchists[edit]

See List of Jewish anarchists

The writer Josephus records a certain Judas of Galilee who plotted to overthrow the Roman government in Judea and was subsequently executed.

This Judas, who belong to Pharisee Sect of Judaism,was opposed to all earthly leadership (including that of the Jews of the time), and preached that the only leader they had was God.

Jewish anarchist newspapers[edit]



Christian anarchism
collectivist anarchism
egoist anarchism
green anarchism
individualist anarchism

Anarchism in culture

anarchism and religion
anarchism and society
anarchism and the arts
criticisms of anarchism
history of anarchism

Anarchist theory

origins of anarchism
anarchist economics
anarchism and capitalism
anarchism and Marxism
anarchism w/o adjectives
anarchist symbolism
propaganda of the deed
post-left anarchy

Anarchism by region

anarchism in Africa
anarchism in Americas
anarchism in Asia
anarchism in Europe
anarchism in Oceania

Associated concepts

anomie, anti-racist action
autonomism, black blocs
Copwatch, Consensus
Diggers, DIY
direct democracy
Indymedia, infoshops
squatting, wikis

Relevant lists

Anarchists | Books
Communities | Concepts

See also[edit]


  1. Гончарок, Моше (1996). Век воли. Русский анархизм и евреи (XIX-XX вв.) (in (Russian)), Jerusalem: Mishmeret Shalom.
  2. Templer, Bill From Mutual Struggle to Mutual Aid: Moving Beyond the Statist Impasse in Israel/Palestine. Borderlands E-journal. URL accessed on February 15, 2007.
  3. Noam Chomsky "Advocacy and Realism: A reply to Noah Cohen" ZNet, August 26, 2004
  4. Гончарок, Моше (2002). ПЕПЕЛ НАШИХ КОСТРОВ, Очерки Истории Еврейского Анархистского Движения (ИДИШ-АНАРХИЗМ) (in (Russian)), Jerusalem: Problemen.

External link[edit]