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Theodor Herzl's Program for Zionism

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We shall educate children as we wish from the commencement; but this I shall not elaborate either.

My remarks on workmen's dwellings, and on unskilled laborers and their mode of life, are no more Utopian than the rest of my scheme. Everything I have spoken of is already being put into practice, only on an utterly small scale, neither noticed nor understood. The "Assistance par le Travail," which I learned to know and understand in Paris, was of great service to me in the solution of the Jewish question.

RELIEF BY LABOR

The system of relief by labor which is now applied in Paris, in many other French towns, in England, in Switzerland, and in America, is a very small thing, but capable of the greatest expansion.

What is the principle of relief by labor?

The principle is: to furnish every needy man with easy, unskilled work, such as chopping wood, or cutting faggots used for lighting stoves in Paris households. This is a kind of prison-work before the crime, done without loss of character. It is meant to prevent men from taking to crime out of want, by providing them with work and testing their willingness to do it. Starvation must never be allowed to drive men to suicide; for such suicides are the deepest disgrace to a civilization which allows rich men to throw tid-bits to their dogs.

Relief by labor thus provides every one with work. But the system has a great defect; there is not a sufficiently large demand for the production of the unskilled workers employed, hence there is a loss to those who employ them; though it is true that the organization is philanthropic, and therefore prepared for loss. But here the benefaction lies only in the difference between the price paid for the work and its actual value: Instead of giving the beggar two sous, the institution supplies him with work on which it loses two sous. But at the same time it converts the good-for-nothing beggar into an honest breadwinner, who has earned perhaps 1 franc 50 centimes. 150 centimes for 10! That is to say, the receiver of a benefaction in which there is nothing humiliating has increased it fifteenfold! That is to say, fifteen thousand millions for one thousand millions !

The institution certainly loses 10 centimes. But the Jewish Company will not lose one thousand millions; it will draw enormous profits from this expenditure .

There is a moral side also. The small system of relief by labor which exists now preserves rectitude through industry till such time as the man who is out of work finds a post suitable to his capacities, either in his old calling or in a new one. He is allowed a few hours daily for the purpose of looking for a place, in which task the institutions assist him.

The defect of these small organizations, so far, has be that they have been prohibited from entering into competition with timber merchants, etc. Timber merchants are electors; they would protest, and would be justified in protesting. Competition with State prison-labor has all been forbidden, for the State must occupy and feed criminals.

In fact, there is very little room in an old-establish society for the successful application of the system "Assistance par le Travail." But there is room in a new society.

For, above all we require enormous numbers of unskilled laborers to do the first rough work of settlement, to lay down roads, plant trees, level the ground, construct railroads, telegraph installations, etc. All this will be carried out in accordance with a large and previously settled plan.

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Translated from the German by Sylvie D'Avigdor
This edition published in 1946 by the American Zionist Emergency Council

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