26 December 2010

The marginal member of society ... any society

The stateless Jew and the disenfranchised member of the mob shared a common affection for ethnic, tribal self-identification. If the term 'Hebrew, Ivri' means simply the marginal member of society, any society, then the diaspora Jew and the gentile Hebrew formed an implicit alliance in 19th/20th century Europe. 
"... the Jews were the example of a people who without any home at all had been able to keep their identity through the centuries and could therefore be cited as proof that no territory was needed to constitute a nationality. If the pan-movements insisted on the secondary importance of the state and the paramount importance of the people, organized throughout the countries and not necessarily represented in visible institutions, the Jews were a perfect model of a nation without a state and without visible institutions. If tribal nationalities pointed to themselves as the center of the national pride, regardless of historical achievements and partnership in recorded events, of they believed that some mysterious inherent psychological or physical quality made them the incarnation not of Germany but Germanism, not of Russia, but the Russian soul, they somehow knew, even if they did not know how to express it, that the Jewishness of assimilated Jews was exactly the same kind of personal individual embodiment of Judaism and that the peculiar pride of secularized Jews, who had not given up the claim to chosenness more really meant that they believed they were different and better simply because they happened to be born as Jews, regardless of Jewish achievements and tradition. ... the position of the uprooted masses of the big cities, which racism mobilized so efficiently, was in many ways very similar [to the Jews' position]. They too were outside the pale of society, and they too were outside the political body of the nation-state ... In the Jews they recognized their happier, luckier competitors because, as they saw it, the Jews had found a way of constituting a society of their own which, precisely because it had no visible representation and no normal political outlet, could become a substitute for the nation." (The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt, 1994; page 239).

No comments:

Post a Comment