Page 81 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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THE C E N T E NA R Y OF A BOOK
Moses Hess’
Rome and Jerusalem
By
H
e r b e r t
P
a r z en
R
o m e
and
J
e r u s a l e m
, 1
whose hundredth anniversary will be
commemorated this year, marked a radical change in the
radical career of its author, Moses Hess. With that book he
changed the course of his life. At the age of fifty he subordinated
his concern with the revolutionary world of the nineteenth cen­
tury to the revolutionizing of Jewish life. More precisely, he
propelled Jewish life into the revolutionary tide of the time. As
a result, he became the first West-European champion of the
regeneration of the Jewish nation and its restoration to its an­
cestral homeland. This was indeed a brave role that only a
heroic personality would attempt.
To understand what this change in social emphasis signified
for Hess, it is desirable to describe his stature in the contem­
poraneous revolutionary movement. He was one of its outstand­
ing figures, a friend and collaborator of Karl Marx, Friedrich
Engels and Ferdinand Lasalle, and a most significant contributor
to the evolution of the dialectics of Socialism and one of its
ablest propagandists with pen and voice. Because he was a
latent theist and respected the role of the individual in society,
he was opposed to economic determinism and dialectic material­
ism. Consequently, he clashed with Marx and Engels. As Marxist
Socialism crystallized, Hess was pushed aside. He continued to
work with Lassalle even after the publication of
Rome and
Jerusalem,
though friction developed on the issue of the libera­
tion of the small nationalities. Lassalle was indifferent to their
destiny because their struggle for freedom might impede the
triumph of Socialism, whereas Hess insisted that their liberation
was indissolubly integrated in the humanist and revolutionary
processes at work in society.
Hess participated actively in the German Revolution of 1848.
Condemned to death after its failure, he fled to Paris, which
became his home, with incidental intervals, until his death in
1875.
The failure of the Revolution of 1848 was a tensely frustrating
experience for all liberal elements. Many of the social radicals
1 References are to the translation prepared by Meyer Waxman and pub­
lished by Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1918.
75