Two interesting people

Marie Syrkin:

Marie Syrkin’s life spanned ninety years of the twentieth century, 1899–1989. As a polemical journalist, socialist Zionist, poet, educator, literary critic, translator, and idiosyncratic feminist, she was eyewitness to and reporter on most of the major events in America, Israel, and Europe. Beautiful as well as brilliant, she had a rich personal life as lover, wife, mother, and friend. During her lifetime Syrkin’s name was widely recognized in the world of Jewish life and letters. Yet, inevitably, since her death, recognition of her name is no longer quite so immediate…

Syrkin was born in Switzerland, the only child of the theoretician of socialist Zionism Nachman Syrkin and Bassya Osnos Syrkin, a feminist socialist Zionist. Following short stints in several European countries, the family immigrated to the United States in 1909…After her first trip to Palestine in 1933, Syrkin joined the staff of the Jewish Frontier. This began her lifelong contribution to Zionism, Jewish life, and responsible journalism…

In the course of her life, Marie had many influential friends, such as Hayim Greenberg, Ben Gurion, and Irving Howe, and she served as inspiration to many younger intellectuals, including Martin Peretz, Michael Walzer, and Leon Wieseltier.

As poet and journalist, Zionist activist and public intellectual, Syrkin’s work and actions illuminate a wide range of twentieth-century literary, cultural, and political concerns. Her passions demonstrate, as Irving Howe said, “a life of commitment to values beyond the self.”

The young Noam Chomsky:

Deeply influenced by what he was reading and by the discussions he was having with a host of new acquaintances, Chomsky was moving more and more in the direction of anarchism and away from Marxism. Otero notes that since a number of his relatives were on the fringes of the Communist Party, the young Chomsky did develop interests related to Marxism, “but by the time he was twelve or thirteen he had already `worked out of that phase’” (”Chomsky and the Libertarian Tradition” 4). So, during his visits to New York, Chomsky also frequented the office of Freie Arbeiter Stimme, an anarchist journal with notable contributors, such as Rudolf Rocker…

Chomsky was reading other anarchist material by, for example, Diego Abad de Santillán, who, a few months before the onset of the Spanish Civil War (in March of 1936), wrote a book that was partially translated and republished as After the Revolution. During this period Chomsky also read works by left Marxists (non-Bolshevik Marxists), including Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, and Karl Korsch. Korsch’s work was an important source of inspiration for some of the more theoretically oriented Marxist thinkers who, in turn, exerted various degrees of influence upon Chomsky. In fact, Chomsky claims that Korsch was a Spanish-anarchosyndicalist-movement sympathizer, suggesting that a broad camp of left-thinking individuals found much that was worthwhile in the Spanish anarchist actions: “Marxism also covers a pretty broad spectrum and there is a point at which some varieties of anarchism and some varieties of Marxism come very close together, as for example, people like Karl Korsch, who was very sympathetic to the Spanish anarchist movement, though he himself was sort of an orthodox Marxist” (Language and Politics 168). [More here on his kibbutz experiences.]

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Published in: on July 4, 2009 at 4:17 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Chomsky is a Democratic Party anarchist. He always tells people to vote for the lesser evil.

    Check out the video I have at my blog of John Peterson speaking about the Spanish Revolution. My comrade is correct; the Spanish Revolution is a study of what not to do.

  2. Thanks Renegade. Here’s the url:

    http://advant.blogspot.com/2008/12/john-peterson-spanish-civil-war-70.html


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