In the news today, it appears that Germany's biggest synagogue has reopened after several years of renovation that aimed to restore it to its pre-Nazi era beauty. Surely this can't be seen as a bad thing. The restoration of this synagogue is a great achievement in a country which in the 20th century orchestrated the most brutal assault on my people the world has ever seen. The restoration, financed by the lottery (from what I've read), illustrates the support of the German government for the Jewish community. However, at the end of the article I linked, there are presented some sad realities about Jewish life in Germany.
"All Jewish institutions even bookstores and kosher groceries have 24-hour police protection and stand behind concrete or metal barriers to guard against vandalism and terrorism. The synagogue on Rykestrasse even has a police station inside."
It is truly disgusting that, even in this current age, Germany is still not a safe enough place for Jews whereas they can function without fear of attack/police protection. One has to take note as well that the "terrorism" mentioned in the above quote not only encompasses today's Islamist brand, but also (and most likely more predominantly) white neo-Nazi fueled crimes by German nationals.
Another down note in the article, is that only 20 people are expected to worship in this 1,074 person capacity synagogue this coming Saturday, with a peak of only 300 for the High Holy days. This is not to say that all Jews should be practicing Jews, but without a tangible 21st Jewish national identity (in the Diaspora) these figures reflect what can be assumed to be the assimilationist tendencies of Germany's 140,000 non-religious Jews (there are 250,000 Jews in Germany. By comparison there are over 1,500,000 Jews in New York state).
Let us not forget that in his speech, "The Future of Our Youth in This Country and Assimilation" (1935), Chaim Zhitlovsky points out Germany as the place where the belief that assimilation is the answer to the Jewish problem was first raised (no doubt by Jewish intellectuals disgusted with the "unsightly jargon" of their Eastern European brethren.)
The restoration of the synagogue up from the destruction wrought by Nazism and Stalinism is a great achievement for the Jews of Germany; however the Jews of the entire Diaspora (including Germany) still have much work to do on their own national restoration. Such a restoration will not be brought about by the government of an established state, but rather through the "creative life forces" of the Jewish people, a people that has a will to survive as "a normal respectable people, worthy of being a member of equal standing in the family of nations constituting humanity!"
Connect The Dots, By Warner Bass
When we enter grade school, it is not long before we are introduced to the multitude of happy-go-lucky concepts that make it easy for us simple minded children to get a grasp on the complexities of the country we live in. One such concepts is that of the melting pot. We are taught how America is a big melting pot of cultures which diverse groups of immigrants bring to make up our country. Above all we are supposed to come away with the idea that such a stew of cultures is a good thing. Such, however, is not the case. A key mechanism in the melting pot analogy is often left out...the flame by which cultures are melted. A mechanism is at work, every second of every day, in order to melt down real cultures into the gak of America’s, it is known as the over-saturated market (or market for short). America’s oversaturated market works at all times to destroy real cultures, and repackage them into marketable commodities. When such a process is complete (and the melting pot’s “stew” is ready to be served) what is actually put on the plate in front of us is today’s American (oversaturated market) culture.
One cannot deny today the existence of an American culture, however just because it exists does not mean it should continue to exist in its current backwards form.
If American culture is nothing but that of an oversaturated market, then what exactly are Americans? Well simply put, Americans are an enchained people endowed with a disgusting pseudo-culture that they are programmed to maintain and further until humanity ceases to exist as it was meant to.
Americans are conditioned through their so called culture, to be content with it and keep complaints to a minimum. But a subdued people is not always a happy people, and Americans are no different.
Americans who are not happy with the order of things, however, often only become more Americanized (culturally) through the behaviors they exhibit in defiance of “the American way”.
In order to try to separate themselves from the status quo Americans dress differently, listen to new music, and try to think in new ways along brand new cultural lines. However example groups like Punks and even people like me are only opening new doors for the market culture to infiltrate, or borrowing from former representations of market culture (by spending $165 on sneakers that have an 1980’s hip hop colour pattern in order to stand out). But no matter how people dress or the music the buy into, such so called “counter” cultures have the roots (or are now rooted) in America, so they become (or already are) American by association. The fact that such cultures can be bought and sold and advertised attests to this.
If we are to break away from the omnipotent oversaturated market culture, we must become aware of the falsities of so called “counter” cultures, and (as mentioned above) how they function too to keep us in check.
Not falling into a saturated market’s “counter” culture is hard, especially when there are thousands of agencies working around the clock to try to get you to buy into them. I do, however, have faith that humans, when they are unhappy with something, have the ability to change it for the better, and want to change it for the better.
Following the lead of the intelligentsia, the people of America will be able to break their chains of cultural (and economic , but that’s a different story) oppression and begin their long and possibly arduous walk out of “the cave” dominated by a saturated market based culture.
Such a walk according to my model will begin with a common realization that current market saturated American culture is disgusting inhumane and must be rejected. Such a rejection will be based on a universal realization that a such a culture (a market saturated leviathan) is in actuality not an acceptable culture to expect human interaction to thrive in.
Specifically, a market saturated culture dehumanizes us by depriving us in infinite ways of true human interaction in favour of what we think human interaction. One of these infinite examples could be instant messaging. We think we are interacting with our fellow humans on another computer, when in fact we are first of all depriving ourselves of a plethora of human senses ranging from emotion to actually completing our thoughts (ttyl). Humans weren't ever meant to interact in the following fashion:
It is the opinion of both my peers and I that many other “Americans” have a similar attitude on the unacceptable nature of current market saturate culture and are equally as disgusted with the prospect of dehumanization.
The physical act of breaking ones chains is a multistage process that has the ability to take many forms. It’s most initial stage is the realization that a culture founded in market saturation is an unacceptable culture which has its only ends in our dehumanization.
This realization can be referred to as point A. (For the purpose one can think of point A as the initial twisting in our chains, and point B as being the place outside of the cave under the sun of true American culture free of market saturation and control.) There is infinitely many micro points that have to be connected in order to reach point B, and scores of combinations of paths. Just because I am attempting to connect the dots on my path, does not mean it is the only path to point B.
It is in my opinion that some sort of revolution must occur to push people to do something about their (point A) realization. What kind of revolution, and the specifics of it cannot yet be fully anticipated, but I see it as having its ends in taking the current overlord saturated market and reducing it to something that can be put under the feet of humanity.
(A revolution that allows us as humans to put the market below us, will not necessarily be the last (revolution). Even if we get to point B, we may come to see a point C on the horizon. Here we see the notion of the Permanent Revolution in action, never being satisfied and always striving for something better.)
However by taking the market off of its high pedestal and de-saturating it, you are in-turn destroying the only “culture” people living in America have ever known (except when there were new immigrants I guess). Humans do not like being void of culture (even if it is a crappy one). What oh what will fill this void?
There have, at points in human existence, been real cultures; borne not of market saturation, but rather from real human interaction over long periods of time.
In what I will call the Reactionary stage of our walk out of the cave, the peoples of America will take once step back in order to take infinite steps forward. Once the market is under the control of humans and market saturated culture ceases to exist, old “national” cultures will work to fill the void and further unite the masses.
This brings us to the question of what is a nation? Chaim Zhitlovsky in his groundbreaking “Socialism and the National Question” described it thus: “A nation is a group of people that in the course of many generations has explained for itself all cultural questions common to humanity, and has thereby explained some cultural questions differently from other groups of people...and therefore elaborated distinct national forms of creativity, a distinct 'national' intellectual/spiritual or physical type that passes from generation to generation.”
Irish will once again be Irish. They will be Irish, not because they bought a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” hat, while they were wasted at last year’s St. Patrick’s day parade; but rather because they keep Irish customs, speak Gaelic (and have cultural institutions revolving around Gaelic), live in small communities of fellow Irishmen, and so on. This will be the same for all other nations/peoples/tribes.
It is vital in understanding this arrangement that separatism and isolationism is not the objective, and certainly not point B. The sole purpose of such a reaction, is to fill the void left by the old American culture’s passing (with real culture), and to provide for a united front of nations. Adherents to this path out of the cave will not see man’s differences as an inevitable cause of failure, but rather an inevitable part of what it means to be human.
The Anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, noted in his Revolutionary Catechism,
“Equality does not imply the leveling of individual differences, nor that individuals should be made physically, morally, or mentally identical. Diversity in capacities and powers – those differences between races, nations, sexes, ages, and persons – far from being a social evil, constitutes, on the contrary, the abundance of humanity.”
Being able to understand this is a inseparable part of understanding the reactionary phase of our walk out of the cave, which in the end strives for both a true American culture and humane humanity.
Before I continue on my path to point B, I want to go back to my mention of national groups living together in small communities. In order for the reactionary stage of the Permanent Revolution to succeed, humans must once again congregate to live in communities that nurture nationality and culture in a humane living space. While I’d like to go off on a rant about what communities are better than others with respect to the Permanent Revolution, I am terribly unqualified in the art of city planning (or whatever its called). Surely this will be something someone, myself or otherwise, will look into in the near future.
What I do know however, that these small nationally/culturally centered communities, will have to be juxtaposed to one another, and not in the least bit isolated. Not all of Nassau county’s Italians will inhabit there own island of land apart from all other nations. Rather, small (but tight-knit) Italian communities will be scattered throughout the land juxtaposed to infinitely many other national/cultural communities. Anything short of “juxtaposition” and “small” will breed isolation and separatism.
Why is such juxtaposition necessary? Public education can only draw pupils from surrounding communities. If the surrounding community was 100% Swiss, not much would be accomplished in terms of getting to point B and building a true American culture. Not to mention the separatism, ethnocentrism, and isolationism it would breed. The smaller and more juxtaposed the communities the greater the chance that the public schools those communities send their children to will be nationally diverse. It is vital that public schools, drawing from surrounding communities maintain a diverse population representative of America’s diversity.
At such schools all 6 main subjects (math, science, history, philosophy, collective Revolution, and English) will be taught in English, the common language of all Americans. In the forum of the public school, similar cultured children should not speak among themselves in there mother tongues, as this breeds isolationism.
English will provide a common language (however not a common culture). The mother-tongues are to flourish and be spoken mostly in the communities they come from. These languages, however, will have a place in the public school.
A community can provide a great natural education, as far as language and history goes, however it is the job of the public schools to make sure that children become proficient in their respective mother-tongues, and the history of their nation (as taught by members of their nation). Starting in preschool children will begin receiving instruction on their respective language and history. Students, at the end of their public school careers should be able to form coherent thought, read well, write well, and be able to converse in their mother tongues. This isn't to say that they shouldn't be just as proficient in English. English proficiency is a must. IF they have the interest, classes should be available for learning other languages as well.
The flip-side of these proficiency programs is making sure that children of the respected nations, have a solid understanding of their roots. In the public setting, and not the private, pride can be fostered without breeding separatism and isolationism. Such nationally-oriented classes, in the public setting, will prove truly helpful in explaining to the children the role of their individual nation in the Revolution as well.
Schools and similar institutions, will replace today’s exclusive market in providing the common forum for the exchanges between individual nations. Such exchanges will beget what Zhitlovsky referred to as “General Human Culture” (Science, humanistic knowledge, and art).
One can argue that the “truth” outside our particular cave can take multiple forms.
For those who believe America to be a “melting-pot” of nations, truth would take the following form: With separate nations interacting in the common forum of idea for an extended period of time one could imagine that eventually national identity and culture will cede to the expanding “General Human Culture”. However I am not convinced that this is the truth for which we are striving.
Rather we can see America’s “truth” /point B not as a melting pot but rather a nation of nations united by their common humanity, education, labour, and struggle for a better existence.
It is my hope that someday, following this outline, we will be able to reach point B and begin our journey to point C, seeking whatever it holds for us and continuing our never-ending revolution for a better humanity.
I wrote this for my transnational journal [tentatively] titled "The Permanent Revolution". It was distributed at my school in May.