The idea that I develop in this pamphlet is an age-old one: the establishment of a Jewish State.
The world echoes with outcries against the Jews, and this is what awakens the dormant idea.
I am not inventing anything, as the reader should be constantly aware when reading my explanations. I am inventing neither the condition of the Jews as it developed through history, nor the means to remedy it. The material components of the structure which I sketch, are present in reality and within easy reach; anyone can convince himself of that. Thus if anyone wants to characterize this attempt to solve the Jewish question with one word, then it should not be called a "fantasy" but at most a "synthesis."
At the outset I must guard my plan from being treated as a Utopia. In doing so I am only preventing superficial observers from possibly committing a silly blunder. After all, it would be no disgrace to have written a philanthropic Utopia. I could achieve an easier literary success --and, as it were, avoid all responsibility- -if I presented my plan in the form of a novel for readers who want to be entertained. But that would be the kind of amiable Utopia that has been produced in such abundance before and after Sir Thomas More. And I think the situation of the Jews in various countries is bad enough to render such preliminary dalliance superfluous.
To bring out the difference between my construction and a Utopia I shall choose an interesting book of recent years, Freiland [Freeland] by Dr. Theodor Hertzka. This is an ingenious bit of fantasy, devised by a thoroughly modern mind schooled in the principles of political economy, and as remote from life as the equatorial mountain on which this dream state is located. Freiland is a complicated piece of machinery with many cogs and wheels which even mesh; but there is nothing to indicate to me that it can be set in motion. And even if I were to see Freeland associations come into being, I should regard the whole thing as a joke.
The plan before you, however, contains the utilization of a driving force that exists in reality. In all modesty I am only indicating the cogs and wheels of the machine that is to be built, referring to my limitations and trusting that there will be mechanics more competent than I for the actual construction.
What matters is the driving force. What is that force? The distress of the Jews.
Who dares deny that this force exists? We shall deal with it in the chapter on the causes of anti-Semitism.
We understand steam power which is generated by boiling water in a tea-kettle and which then lifts the kettle lid. Such a tea-kettle phenomenon are the Zionist experiments and many other organized efforts "to combat anti-Semitism."
This force, if properly used, is powerful enough to run a great machine and transport men and merchandise. The machine may have whatever form one pleases.
I am profoundly convinced that I am right; I do not know whether I shall be proved right in my lifetime. The men who inaugurate this movement will hardly live to see its glorious conclusion. But the very inauguration will bring a lofty pride and the happiness of inner freedom into their lives.
To protect my plan from the suspicion that it is a Utopia, I shall use picturesque details in my description but sparingly. As it is, I suspect that unthinking scoffers will attempt to invalidate the whole idea by distorting my outline. A generally intelligent Jew to whom I presented the matter said that details of the future presented as reality were the hallmark of a Utopia. This is a fallacy. Every minister of finance uses future figures in his budgetary estimate - not just figures derived from the average of previous years and the past revenues of other states, but also figures for which there is no precedent for example, when a new tax is instituted. Only those who have never looked at a budget will be unaware of this. Will this cause anyone to regard a draft of a fiscal law as Utopian, even if he knows that it will never be possible to stick to the estimate very closely?
But I expect even more of my readers. I ask the educated readers whom I am addressing to rethink and revise many old notions. And I am particularly imposing upon the Jewish leaders, those who have actively striven for a solution of the Jewish Question, to the extent of asking them to look upon their previous efforts as misguided and ineffectual.
In presenting my idea I face a danger. If I describe all those things of the future with restraint, it will seem as though even I do not believe that they are possible. If, on the other hand, I predict their realization unreservedly, everything may look like a figment of my imagination.
Therefore I say clearly and emphatically: I do believe that my scheme can be put into practice, even though I do not presume to have found the final form the idea will take. The Jewish State is something the world needs, and consequently it will come into being.
If this idea were only to be pursued by one person, it would be a rather foolish quest; but if many Jews agree to work on it simultaneously, it is entirely reasonable, and carrying it out will present no major obstacles. The idea depends only on the number of its adherents. Perhaps our ambitious young people, to whom every road is even now blocked and for whom the Jewish State reveals bright prospects of honor, freedom, arid happiness, will see to it that this idea is disseminated.
With the publication of this pamphlet I consider my task as completed. I shall have something further to say only if attacks from estimable opponents force me to do so, or if it becomes necessary to refute unforeseen objections and eliminate errors.
Is what I am saying not yet true? Am I ahead of my time? Are the sufferings of the Jews still not great enough? We shall see.
So it depends on the Jews themselves whether this political pamphlet is, for the time being, only a political novel. If the present generation is still too obtuse, another, better, more advanced generation will come along. Those Jews who want a state of their own will have one, and deservedly so.
Perface translated for MidEastWeb and Zionism-Israel.com by W.M.H. Brasse
Updated translation copyright 2008. This updated and corrected translation has been prepared for MidEastWeb: Middle East and Zionism-Israel.com. It may not be copied on the Web without permission. It may be printed freely for non-profit use only. Other uses require permission.
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