Page 142 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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JEW ISH BOOK ANNUAL
natu ra l instinct o f individual p rop rie to rsh ip is denied. In an
adm itted re trea t from his dismissal o f communism , Nordau
places great emphasis on the abolishment o f the right o f inhe ri­
tance so that most real property would pass to the state, envi­
sioned as a community o f fellowship, to provide food, clothing,
shelter, schooling, and occupational tra in ing for the bona Fide
poor. As envisioned by Nordau , all land, houses, factories, and
businesses would become “the inalienable property o f the com­
munity and come into its direct possession at the close o f each
gene ration ,” to be ren ted ou t to the following generations. A con­
firmed optimist, Nordau would replace the motto, “Everyone for
h im se lf’with “One for all and all for each” as the rallying cry for a
new social o rde r founded on human solidarity — the cohesive fel­
lowship o f mankind — conceived o f here as altruism on the
broadest scale possible. Only through this restruc tu ring o f the
social contract, Nordau maintains, can we p reven t hunger-fue led
revolts by the new u rban poor against the numerically small yet
powerful speculators and wealthy exploiters who th rough the ir
egomaniacal individualism have subjected the wretched wage-
slaves to a misery worse than that o f the slaves o f old.
SOCIAL FAILINGS
T he matrimonial lie rounds ou t Max N o rdau ’s survey o f soci­
ety’s ills. Modern marriage, he relates, has become a mercenary,
loveless, and immoral economic par tne rsh ip based on material
interests, this a form o f prostitution ultimately leading to a m o r­
ally decayed up p e r class. What is to blame for this misfortune?
T he answer is the prud ish Christian morality fo r its suppression
o f sexual love and the natura l selection tha t attracts lovers. With
divorce a taboo and with no public discussion o f procreation , it is
no wonder that love has no place in a repressed society dom ina ted
by eunuchs and “scorified and calcinated old men” who condemn
in public that which they practice in private. Anticipating F reud ’s
Civilization and Its Discontents
(1930), N o rdau is attentive to the
sexual conflict between “the individual impulse and the social
impulse.” Monogomy, according to No rdau , is not a na tu ra l con­
dition o f mankind no r is unconditional fidelity an a ttribu te o f
hum an nature , yet monogamy has evolved as society’s way o f
freeing itself o f the bu rden o f collective childrearing . T he double
s tandard o f sexual conduct for men and women is pointed ou t as