A FIRST PROGRAM FOR ZIONIST COLONIZATION
Extract from his address at the sixth Zionist Congress in Basle (26.8.1903)
in: I. H. Bilski (Ed.), Means and Ways towards a Realm of Justice. A Collection of Articles dedicated to the Memory of Professor Franz Oppenheimer (1864-1943), Tel Aviv 1958, pp.71-82.
The following I consider the chief aims to be kept in view by Zionist colonization.
1. It must rest entirely on self help. Self help as the theorists of the German cooperative movement understand it, which means that in the regular course of his economic existence p.72 every able bodied adult must count only upon himself in all material things.
This principle may undergo many modifications without being violated, or rather it is only thereby fully worked out. Firstly it may be combined with what the great, wise friend of humanity, Viktor A. Huber, called "aristocratic help"; which means the immaterial support of economic developments by the voluntary counsel of intellectuals, of specialists, and secondly the principle of selfhelp is only workable if credit be granted to the extent required by the newly created settlements.
2. The second principle of Zionist colonization must be to found it on an agrarian basis. Every nation depends on a mass of humanity being rooted in the soil it occupies and such roots are only struck by agriculture. If Zionism wants to create a new nation it must lay deep foundations in the country in a Jewish peasantry; only upon that can a proud culture ultimately safely rest and develop. Every human technique can only succeed if in its working it imitates nature itself; every development fulfils itself according to the mighty law of evolution, whereby every individual has to pass through all the main stages which the species has left behind in the course of millions of years; so also an individual nation has to begin as all nations in the history of the world have begun: with peasant settlements.
If we were willing to risk building a house from the roof downwards, it would fall, even if we placed it upon golden buttresses. We cannot possibly transfer a gigantic population of artisans, shopkeepers and peddlers from one place on the surface of the globe to another and let them continue to live as artisans, shopkeepers and peddlers. On the contrary our duty is to organize p.73 as quickly as possible in the land of our choice the most extensive market possible for the greatest possible consumption of artisan's produce, which means that we must settle as many peasants as possible in order to raise the standard of living as high as possible. At the same time we then create in every village life space and a comfortable existence for great crowds of artisans, who live on the surplus of our peasants, while they serve them by their craftsmanship; at the same time we then create numerous towns in which urban elements again find space and air to live; for the deepest secret which my economic studies have recognized is that he who would create towns must create peasants.
3. The third fundamental aim is that the land must irrevocably and for all time be the property of the community. "Mine is the land, saith the Lord, and ye shall work it for Me". In modern dress we must restore the primeval agricultural laws of Israel, which allocated the land for all time to the tribe or village community, which for its part only possessed it in fief from the nation as a whole.
The ancient world knew no other means of maintaining that equality of land tenure, which it fully recognized as the only possible foundation of a sound national life, than to return every piece of ground sold or pawned to the heirs after a certain period: at the year of jubilee. Only because the return could not be effected on account of the power of the big landowners being strong enough to prevent the application of the law, only because of this did Israel fall like Sparta and Rome; that in the last resort is the cause of all Ahasver's sufferings.
p.74 We must forfend this evil, and 2000 years of history have provided us with a better means than the year of jubilee. The individual colonies possess their land corporately under the overlordship of the whole nation; and every individual colonist is only hereditary lease-holder within his community, paying a fixed sum which may not be raised. He cannot be given notice to leave as long as he fulfils his civic obligations to the nation and his economic and communal obligations to his community.
This way of holding land, imperfectly carried into effect under all the old systems of Common Law, insures all the advantages of individual land property and is free from its worst shortcomings. It grants complete security of possession, it bestows the home feeling in the fullest sense and forges this indissoluble link with the soil which roots the soul of the peasant in the field he tills; but it precludes the mortgaging of the soil, which deprives the peasant of the fruits of his labour throughout all the countries under Roman Law and throws them into the lap of the landlord. Further, it precludes that breaking up of agricultural holdings here and their accumulation there which divides the village community into an unfriendly aristocracy and proletariat, and thereby destroys that community of interests which alone, as the history of the world testifies, can make it invulnerable.
Moreover, it precludes that proletarization of poor peasant folk who crowd into towns, inflating them to gigantic manes morally and physically unsound, and by its offer of pittance wages for hired labour calls every horror of capitalism into the world.
Cooperative tenure of land guarantees for all time the freedom p.75and brotherliness of the peasant class, which from age to age enjoys higher culture and civilization as it betters its condition. Finally, it guarantees for all time a healthy balance between the urban and peasant population, the equal development of all classes, the absence of any giant metropolis and reasonable economic equality between urban trades, which is both morally and politically sound, together with freedom and brotherly cohesion.
My conviction is that Zionism can choose no other system whatever. Were we to parcel out to rich capitalists the territory we have acquired, it would, firstly, be much too limited for the masses longing for redemption; for ownership by big landlords devastates the world; it has not the hundredth part of the capacity for the absorption of people that is found in smallholding colonization with its rich urban development. Secondly, we should be doing nothing but turning the urban proletariat into a still more wretched agricultural proletariat. If we were to parcel out the land in peasant holdings with the unfettered right of property under Roman Law, we should then not only import every grade of misery which the legislation of that robber state has brought upon the civilized world, and we should also not only immeasurably diminish the power of the land to enthrall men, but we should above all squander what is the most essential of all, the mighty basis of credit created by co-operative colonization; for on that basis the total value of the land increases in proportion to the square of the density of the population and can be utilized to attract the gigantic sums which are indispensable for the completion of the work, capital sums which the Jew of Western Europe will never place at our disposal as a gift. But p.76if we distribute the land to private landlords, its immense value, the outcome of the labour of all, will accrue to private individuals and naturally be made to serve the purposes not of the collectivity but private ends, and so we end where we began.
Our beginning must therefore be: cooperative villages of peasants; this is the lesson of history, of economic science and our sacred tradition. But how shall it come about?
Now, my friends, we should stretch a net of peasant colonies over the land we wish to acquire. To stretch a net pegs must first be driven in between which the net is to appear. Then between these pegs are stretched strong ropes, between the ropes are thick strings, and so there is a coarse network in which as need arises ever finer network can be woven by introducing finer string just so should we, I think, proceed. As far as the means at our disposal suffice we should acquire wide stretches of land in all parts of the country, and where possible only such as guarantee certain, results from agricultural labour by the constitution of the soil and facilities for irrigation,
At the same time from among the great numbers of Jewish agriculturists to be found in Galicia, Roumania and Russia emigrants must be attracted and set on their way to the settlements.
In order, on the one hand, to give these peasant settlers good co-operative training for subsequently taking over the land and, on the other hand, to enable them to purchase the most possible goods for their fixed wage, branch cooperatives will be from the beginning associated, with the central cooperative, first of all a consumer's cooperative. A wholesale cooperative will purchase from the best sources and for cash all those agricultural p.77and industrial products which are not produced in the country itself and will distribute them to the consumer's cooperatives in the individual colonies without any extra charge beyond the cost of transport. The colonists thus escape the merchant's taxation which must be the higher the smaller the circle of people who are supplied. They will combine to form a purchase co-operative which obtains through the wholesale cooperative seedlings, animals for breeding, artificial manures, machines and tools, feeding stuffs, etc. and distributes them at cost price to the individual farms, so that the latter escape the middleman's charges.
Further, they will organize production co-operatives to run, e. g. a threshing machine an oil press, wine presses and a brewery, a dairy, a beetsugar factory etc., and the profits of the undertaking will be paid back to the members of the co-operative who in this way receive the profits as producers. Further, they will organize marketing co-operatives which will suitably handle the produce of larger and smaller farms, packing and the search for the best market, so that the associates may have the profits instead of the middleman; they will organize life insurance, also insurance against fire, sickness, old age, accidents, hailstorms and cattle diseases, and in such a way that only the premium on the risk will have to be paid without any interest for the organizers, by which means we may expect and hope that the small insurance companies in the individual colonies by combining together will form powerful institutions in which risks are reduced to a minimum.
In this way the whole life of these colonists will be spent within a framework created by themselves, which will both protect p.78and support them. An agricultural colony which works cheap land with sufficient capital under intelligent specialist leadership, the income of which is increased by saving all payments to middlemen and capitalists, the rights of ownership being irrefutable and economic energies spurred on by the consciousness that it is only serving its own interests and those of the family, such a community may with every certainty be declared economically vastly supperior to a private capitalistic colony of individual landowners. Under similar conditions the Mormons have created a paradise out of the arid steppe of Utah, full of amazing wealth and with an unprecedented sense of citizenship.
These initial settlements of landworkers who gradually become peasants are, my friends, the pegs to be firmly driven in by Zionist colonization in all four corners of the land in order to stretch the ropes for their net. Let us now make clear how these ropes are to be strung.
From every colony as a centre of human energy and intelligence, according to the means at its disposal, we shall develop new settlements and occupy them as far as possible exclusively with new agricultural settlers; further, we shall acquire fresh land and prepare it ahead of colonization, e. g. by drainage or irrigation systems which render more extensive regions fertile. We can then think of prudently introducing some craftsmen into these individual colonies, which will be able to earn their living from their work for the colonists; a house and a workshop will be built for them and a piece of land assigned to them for a garden; they will pay to the central co-operative the interest and amortisation of the building capital and the cost price of the land; they will be freely admitted to all the p.79 subsidiary co-operatives. These artisans, settled upon cheap allotments, set in contact with a good market, endowed with adequate capital, will of course be independent elements and contribute in many ways to the prosperity of the colony to which they belong. They open up an immediate market for much agricultural produce; the manure of their households and stables is to the good of the colony's soil, at harvest time they afford a crowd of auxiliary helpers, cheap because only to be paid for a short period, and above all, and this is the most important point, they allow for a continuously increasing intensity of farming which grows with the density of the market, according to the well-known law of Johann v. Thuenen. Or in other words, they allow the land to be more and more densely occupied by agricultural settlers, a result which, as we know, is of absolutely vital importance for the purposes of our colonies; for we have very many people to settle.
Meanwhile new colonies of the second grade are organized just in the same way as the first and set agoing. They may be founded on somewhat worse land; they profit by the experiences of the pioneer colonists; they profit by the wholesale co-operatives already established, the channels for marketing, etc., and finally they profit by the imponderable of the national assurance of success and the co-operative spirit which has already been developed. Moreover, in these colonies urban elements will be able to find an opening in larger numbers as artisans.
Those, my friends, are the cords which Zionist colonization must stretch to weave its net. By the time it is complete, the means at its disposal to-day will presumably be exhausted: but then there will be no further need to appeal to the Jewish heart p.80 and purse to carry on the great work. By then it will be evident even to the most prejudiced that organisms with amazing vitality have appeared. These semi-communal, semi‑economic organizations constitute a credit basis of immeasurably higher capacity than even the richest communities of Western Europe, and so the fecundating gold stream of credit will flow towards them as richly as they require.
Then the time will have come to complete the economic development of the land by means of those enormous funds, that is to say, to knot the meshes of the net. Mountain streams in the hill country will be harnessed so that life-giving water may be cautiously brought down from an immense reservoir and the arid steppe florish with wheat and maize fields; then the network of canals, roads and railways will be spread over the land which is vital for developing its wealth; then harbours and docks will appear, which our honoured President has envisaged for the future; then perhaps the water of the Mediterranean will be brought to that saltpit of the Dead Sea and drive the gigantic dynamos of this florishing national economy on its bosom.
But then will really be the moment to set in motion a truly mass immigration, then artisans can be settled as such between the recently erected rural townships, in townships wholly consisting of artisans surrounded by plantations of trees. Then there will be a world of workers leading if not a wealthy, at all events a respectable existence on the nominal wages of the London East End and the sweatshops of New-York, and then the world famous commercial genius of Jewish capitalists will build up industries here for the world market on the strength p.81 of this cheap, but not poverty-stricken, wage-earning population. And their children brought up in sunshine and fresh air with nourishing food and in the full consciousness of their national rights will be able to become free citizens in the land of their fathers with the strength of muscle and the intelligence which are needed to make men of men.
That, my friends, is I believe the only way our aim can be realized. It is a hard way which seems much too long for the impatience of those crying out for redemption and for the warm heart of the helper. I see no other: no organizing power and no wealth in the world seems to me equal to the solution of the problem which arises when millions of the wretched urban proletariat are thrown into the agricultural domain. Chaos is inevitable; it can only end in unparalleled misery, which will clear the superfluous out of the way by hunger, typhus and cholera to make room for the few who will survive.
How long the work I have sketched will take is moreover not to be estimated at the beginning: the means at our disposal enable us to drive in our pegs immediately in many places, if only the preliminary condition of every settlement and of every sort of human welfare be forthcoming: security for our settlers and their property, the protection of a civilized state.
Then it will not be long at all before the stream of immigration into our land grows from a thin little trickle to a brook, the swollen brook to a river, to a flood, until the reservoirs of evil of Eastern Europe are emptied. Here the beginning alone is difficult, later the work grows to gigantic proportions. Before one generation has passed away the last pariah in Europe can be transformed into a free citizen of his own p.82 fatherland. We ourselves will, I hope, see the Promised Land as Yoshua saw it; we shall not have to die like Moses within sight of the valley he yearned for. Every beginning is difficult and only the first step means a struggle. So, my friends, let us as soon as possible lay the foundation stone of the giant edifice which has gleamed before the eyes of our best; let not our hands fall into our laps while we dream of a sudden fulfillment, but let us tackle to and limit ourselves to grasping that which nature bestowns upon man's effort, lay the foundation, plant the seed of the tree in whose shade our great grandchildren will once bless us!
WE HAVEN'T YET FULLY ACHIEVED OUR GOAL
From the periodical "Karnenu" (Our Fund), published by the
National Fund, Jerusalem (June, 1944).
in: I. H. Bilski (Ed.), Means and Ways towards a Realm of Justice. A Collection of Articles dedicated to the Memory of Professor Franz Oppenheimer (1864-1943), Tel Aviv 1958, pp.82-85.
Franz Oppenheimer's last words about Zionist work were devoted to the National Fund. The same fire that glowed in his first speech made on the 6th Zionist Congress at the cradle of the National Fund for Israel, about 42 years ago, reappears in those last words of his. They are an emphatical affirmation of his faith in a salvation of mankind by the p.83 freedom of the land as the chief prophetic message of the National Fund. The article was written in California a short time before Oppenheimer's death on the 30th of Sept. 1943.
The task, that was assigned to the National Fund for Israel about forty years ago, was a double one. Not only we saw Erez Israel (the land of Israel) before our spiritual eyes as a new center for the absorption and security of the Jewish people, but we also wished to lay down solid foundations for its development that it might rid itself of the yoke of the illness and the evils closely connected with modern economic life. In this endeavour the founders of the National Fund didn't renounce the advantages of the free, private initiative as a powerful incentive of economic life. We didn't want to be saved from the entanglement of capitalism only to fall into the trap of collectivism, which in those far off days was but a vision of an unreal future.
The founders and leaders of the National Fund for Israel have invested tremendous means and efforts in their endeavour to realize fully their gigantic program. We have, indeed, no words sufficient to give those efforts the praise they merit. They did, however, not succeed in realizing their aims to a full extent. But the blame for it is not to be laid on them, nor upon their principles. The real burden of responsibility rests upon the shoulders of the people, which didn't contribute an adequate amount of means for this purpose.
Today there are not a few who honestly regret and even worry about the indifferent, if not hostile attitude they had p.84 shown in the epoch when the young movement made its first steps. If Herzl had found the support he looked for, at that time, it wouldn't have been so difficult a task to give the Jewish National Home the improved foundations he aspired at. At that time, it was within the limits of the possible to redeem the major part of the lands held by the efendis, and that with relatively modest means. At that time, the whole country consisted almost exclusively of "deserts and swamps" - according to the words of the Emir Feisal at the end of the first world war, when he declared that the Arab world was ready and willing to co-operate with the Jews in the building up of a Jewish National Home of their own.
The evolution of the Zionist ideal amidst an atmosphere of few understanding and little support is something worth to be recorded in the chronicles of history. At that time again our people refused to listen to the voice of its prophets. The founders and leaders of the National Fund were compelled to curtail their aims and to adapt themselves to actual possibilities of real life. We have to credit them, however, for having done their utmost, within the limits of human efforts. But they were not able to purchase the major part of the lands, nor could they realize and secure a national ownership of the whole Jewish landed property, in order to speed up the development of a perfect model of democracy in the land of Israel. For a real democracy doesn't mean only that society fully enjoys a free press as well as religious freedom and the free right to elect their rulers and judges; for this would be no more than a political democracy only. A true democracy, however, is bound to realize a full equality of chances for every one of its citizens: i. e. an p.85 economic democracy. And such an equality of chances exists only where the land is free and where anybody willing to cultivate it, is entitled to take into possession his share of it. This was first the social wisdom of Israel's Torah - and so it is now the last word of the modem economic science, which has at last been delivered from the entanglement of its former errors. "'The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me" (Levit XXV 23). The Torah solemnly scourges the existence of large private land-properties, considering them as a cancer destroying the social organism and undermining its foundations. And no doubt, that this plague ruined Judaea, just as it ruined Greece, Rome and Carthage. "Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land" (Isaiah V 8). This is also the last word of modem science.
At the time - more than forty years ago - when I outlined before the Congress in Basle the land program for a Jewish colonization in Palestine, there hovered in my mind the vision of such a democracy, political and economical at the same time. We are infinitely indebted to the National Fund for the fact that - in spite of all obstacles and failures - the Land of Israel is today not too far from that goal. I shall not be alive to see the hour when the National Fund will have achieved its aims to a full extent. But I am sure that its work will continue, penetrated with the same spirit of progress and social justice that has inspired its great leaders during the last 40 years.
LAND REFORM AND WORLD PEACE
Published first in the daily "Jerusalem Post", September 30 and October 2, 1953.
in: I. H. Bilski (Ed.), Means and Ways towards a Realm of Justice. A Collection of Articles dedicated to the Memory of Professor Franz Oppenheimer (1864-1943), Tel Aviv 1958, pp.86-94.
The threat to world peace is caused primarily by problems of land tenure and of its reform. The masses of poor smallholders and agricultural workers in the backward parts of the world are no longer willing to be content with unsatisfactory if not unbearable conditions of life. They fight any system which denies them a sufficient plot of land and burdens them with high taxes to landlords and capitalists.
The serious political setbacks which occurred during the last five years, as a result of unrealized chances in land tenure reforms, have been well analyzed by Dr. Raup, one of the initiators of the conference on land tenure problems held in Madison (Wisconsin, U.S.A.) in the autumn of 1951, who says:
"The brute fact remains: land tenure problems lie at the root of some of the most perplexing problems that disturb the peace of our world. The threat of Communism to Americans has generally been centered in urban and industrial areas. It has been a difficult lesson to learn that for most of the world outside the United States, Canada, Britain and several Western European countries, the threat of Communism has revolved around agrarian issues. This lesson was driven home with finality by the fall of China. Little doubt can remain that a fundamental reason for China's fall was p.87the repeated failure of the Kuomintang regime to carry out basic land tenure reforms".
In South Korea, the position was similar. Soon after the world war, Japanese property was divided, and later on it was decided to purchase parts of the large Korean farms with a view to introducing land tenure reforms. But the realization of these reforms was delayed by parliamentary opposition so that at the outbreak of the Korean War no practical step had been taken with respect to the new division of the land. Thus, the political propaganda of North Korea fell on fertile ground.
Such serious mistakes could have been avoided if the teachings of a Zionist pioneer on sociological and economic policy had been adopted. He was Franz Oppenheimer, the theorist of "liberal socialism" and the first planner of a co-operative Zionist colonization.
As early as the nineties of the last century, Oppenheimer expounded the fundamental political importance of land tenure. He suggested replacing the accepted "industry-centred" conception of the social problems by an "agro-centric" approach: The social problem can only be solved by raising the standard of that class which is lowest on the social pyramid, and this is not the urban industrial population but undoubtedly the peasantry. As long as the latter lacks opportunity to make a living on a suitable tract of land, mass emigration into towns will lead to a surplus on the labour market, followed by dumping of wages and social and political unrest.
Thus, it is not astonishing that the social problem in backward countries with feudal traditions has become especially conspicuous. Their population consists mainly of poor peasants. Their p.88 capitalism is an agrarian capitalism based on the feudal system. Their urban industrial development is too weak to make possible a fight for individual and social freedom as was successfully waged in democratic revolutions of the middle classes in Europe. Nor do these countries know a general education, a network of co-operatives and credit organizations for the benefit of the poorer classes, or civil laws to protect and encourage such achievements. If the masses in such countries lack even the economic basis of freedom, viz. a minimum of rentfree land, a situation of high political tension must result.
It is evident that in such countries, Communism has an easy play to achieve its political aims. This fact frequently has been stressed since the Russian Revolution of 1917 by Communist leaders such as Leon Trotzky, as well as by non-Communists. One of many examples: In the early thirties, when the world students' organization at a conference of Europeans, Americans and Asiatics discussed the problems of the Pacific, the already considerable influence of Russia in China was mentioned. The Indian Professor Datta, who cannot be called a radical, explained this influence by the fact that only Russia bad shown a true practical interest in the improvement of the Chinese rural population.
After the first stage of the Russian Revolution, Franz Oppenheimer proved that successful initiators of far-reaching land reforms in primitive countries would be sure to obtain uncontested power. In an article in the year 1906, "The Meaning of the Russian Land Reform," this idea was explained with prophetic insight:
"This is the immense importance of the Russian Revolution, p.89 that for the first time a people shakes its fetters that has only a minor industrial middleclass but where the masses are rural. The Russian farmer demands land. He has too little to feed his family and to comply with his duties as a citizen. For that reason he needs the land which is at hand but bears no or insufficient fruit: the land of the landlord, the church or the State. As long as he sees this aim within his reach, he rejects quietly, and with the healthy instinct of the primitive, any vain promises of the constitutionists. Only when all his hopes for a peaceful realization of his demeands seem to vanish, does he break out with the rage of a man who is denied his right by inability and crime.
The majority are still asking and begging and rely on the understanding of their governors. It is still time! But I am afraid they will miss it again. If there is no statesman with the intellectual power, willpower and political power to take the land and divide it from above, the people themselves will take it from below and nothing in the world will stop them. If the Czar makes the new law, the throne of the Romanovs will stay for centuries. But if a successful opponent of Czarism makes it, the restoration of the throne will for ever be impossible."
WORLD AGRARIAN ISSUES
At the end of his work "The Capital", (1938), Oppenheimer referred to the same problem. Meanwhile 30 years of historic events had caused in large parts of the world fundamental changes in the distribution of the land, though in other p.90 parts none or insufficient reforms had been carried out. Yet, since peaceful introduction of far-reaching reforms occurs only rarely, the trend towards agrarian revolt was bound to become more and more a central issue of world policies.
"All over the world," Oppenheimer wrote, "the rural proletariat must demand the abolition of capitalistic landlord ownership, and it will do so as soon as it awakens to class consciousness. The agrarian unrest of the last decades in Rumania, Hungary, South Italy, Galicia and mainly in Russia proves how near the problems are to reach "maturity." Everywhere, in Mexico, Soviet Russia, Soviet Hungary, Soviet Spain, socialization of the land is the first topic of the opposition."
Such forces of revolt cannot be suppressed in the long run by political or military forces. They will not be appeased by the prospect of democratic freedom alone. This fact was understood even by General Mac-Arthur when he demanded far-reaching land reform in Japan and stressed very rightly that there was no point in "preaching democracy on an empty stomach." There remains only one way to avoid the destructive outbreak of such energies: land reform on a large scale.
Such reform should secure the masses of small landholders and expropriated agricultural labourers a sufficient basis of subsistence without prejudice to the working capacity and property of the independent farmers working without laborers (as it has always been stressed by Franz Oppenheimer). On the contrary, "his property rights should be solemnly guaranteed." Only by fulfilling both these conditions could a united front of all the working classes be established -, a front needed for the political achievement of the reform, as well as for the p.91 introduction of a just and economically sound land tenure legislation.
After the establishment of such a legislation, there will be prospects for a measure of political and social stability as is almost unimaginable at present. "Such a reform would unite a decisive majority of the people and its representatives behind those who initiated it. What prospects for success would remain for utopists and revolutionaries, when hundreds of millions of peasants would not be any more driven by despair to be blind followers of every utopian experiment. They would not even be indifferent observers, but energetically oppose such experiments."
Oppenheimer's prophecy of 1906 became again true in our days, when, after the lost war in Japan, land reform stabilized politically the rural districts to an unhoped-for degree. The Agricultural Attache in Japan, W. L. Ladejinski, reported at the Wisconsin Conference that the results justified the most optimistic expectations. "The Communists of Japan," he said, "'tried hard to exploit the agrarian difficulties of the country and use them as a base from which to infiltrate into the entire Japanese economy. However, in opposing the programme on the ground that it was just another capitalist device to enslave the farmers, they lost all popular support in the rural districts. By strengthening the principle of private property where it was weakest, i. e., at the base of the social pyramid, the reform has created a huge class of staunch opponents to Communist ideology. Even the landlords who carried the financial burdens of the reform frankly admit that by multiplying the number of independent land-owing peasants, there came into being a p.92 middle-of-the-road, stable, rural society and a barrier against political extremism."
Here we have an echo not only of Franz Oppenheimer's thoughts, but of the very terms in which he expressed them 50 years ago. Whether the further development of these problems will show positive or negative trends, depends mainly on political factors.
The case of Japan is instructive enough. The position of the landlords was weakened, and food supply after the loss of foreign possessions and markets was so scarce that everything possible had to be done to stimulate agricultural production. Besides, Russia's influence in the Allied Control Organization was still strong enough, and the landlords feared only more unfavourable alternatives if they rejected the American suggestion for reform.
Since then, the world situation has changed entirely. In a period of cold and hot war, there is hardly any room for a decisive land reform. Long periods of political tension and wars never lead to adjustment, but only to increased inequality in land property. So long as the wealthy classes in the countries of agrarian capitalism and especially the big landowners are compelled to make heavy military and financial sacrifices for a long struggle as allies of the western powers, no responsible politician can demand from them heavy sacrifices in land. Consequently the future of land-reform depends on the continuation or cessation of the cold war. In the former case, a fundamental land reform will be prevented, yet its introduction is a presupposition of peace.
Thus, mankind stands today at the cross-road: it has to p.93 decide in principle whether to continue the destruction and hopeless policy of cold war, waged at the verge of total catastrophe, or resolutely to embark in a peaceful work of economic reconstruction, aimed at realizing more and more justice in the distribution of land and the utilization of natural resources. After such a moral and political decision, far-reaching landreforms will come to the fore in all underdeveloped parts of the world, as the most promising claim to a prosperous future.
No doubt that this decision will be decisive for the future of democracy.
To quote again the findings of the Wisconsin Conference: "The major contribution of this conference is the realization that land tenure is a world problem and an extremely urgent one at that. If social justice is to be the foundation of democracy, land tenure needs the attention of the free world."
In the last years of his life, Franz Oppenheimer warned mankind that the world war would not solve the problems of international politics but only aggravate them. Democracy of the West will soon have to deal with Russia and China's strong social revolutionary forces. Then democracy's problems will be much more difficult than in its victorious struggle with Fascism. "In order to remove the danger of Communism and a newly-arising Fascism, both here and abroad (the U.S.A.), the imperfect, because only political, democracy of the West must be developed into a perfect, that is an economic democracy as well, in which there does, in fact, exist equality of opportunity for all." His ideas and suggestions for a new orientation of democracy are further developed and explained in his still unpublished book "Democracy at the Cross-roads."
p.94 Franz Oppenheimer believed that above the three main ideals of men, Freedom, Equality, and Fraternity, a fourth and even higher one must be placed: Justice. Mankind should realize that "equality of justice can be attained only by freedom, and freedom can only be preserved by equality.' This twofold truth is the basis of peace and it can only become a reality in a "union of power and right."
Sovereignty of justice.
At the end of his book "The State," Franz Oppenheimer defined Right, in its highest meaning of "Justice", as the true sovereign of the future "free citizenship." Only when this postulate is accepted will mankind be ready for true freedom and peace.
This, too, seems to be the ultimate meaning of "Zion", which in the prophets words many nations are called upon to fulfil.
"And many nations will go and speak: Let us ascend to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of Jacob's God. He will teach us of his paths, and we will follow after them. For the teaching will go out from Zion, and from Jerusalem the Lord's word. And he will judge between the tribes and convince many nations. They will forge their swords to ploughshares and their spears to vintage-knives. No people will raise its sword against another people and they will not learn to wage war any more.." (Isaiah II 3-4).
In this vision found Franz Oppenheimer not only a confirmation of his ideas on world peace, but also the inspiration for his pioneering work in the Land of Israel.