Between Autonomy and Assimilation: Notes on Colonization, Nationalism, and Resistance in the Middle-East


I have been mentally and emotionally consumed by the ongoing war between the State of Israel and a handful of other belligerents: Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, etc. This isn’t the first time and I am sure that it will not be the last. Like so many others, I am in search of meaning in all of this bloodshed. I deeply feel that my situation as a working class, American, Ashkenazi Jew intensifies the relationship that I have with this war: that the meaning of my existence is changing with every moment. As an anarchist, this war and the history of its participants feels more like an object lesson than an existential crisis. My aim here is to write this more as an anarchist than as the other given descriptions of my facticity. While the impact that the fog of this war has on my social position is motivating, it is anarchism that is most decisive for my choice of response.

As an object lesson for anarchists, the colonial and post-colonial history of the Middle-East provides numerous instances of stateless peoples making decisions about their futures. Like the study of other stateless peoples, we can learn about our own projects through their choices and the consequences of those choices. What can easily prevent us from learning these lessons is our own humanitarian sympathies. As we lean into the pain and suffering of the oppressed and the brutalized, we subject ourselves to those motivations that so often supply the foundations for authoritarian thinking. If there is something that most certainly inspires authoritarianism, it is war and the emotions that wars encourage: dread, anguish, hopelessness, urgency, and wrath.

Right now, the drive for authoritarian solutions is at the height of its visibility. Everyone seems to be in search of experts, leaders, and great powers to put an end to this nightmare. Old lines are drawn deeper in the sands and new lines are etched on their surface. We are in the midsts of social divisions and unities happening at an accelerated pace. For all the caution that we may take in positioning ourselves, uncertainty rules the day.

The Middle-East and Jewish-Arab Conflict Over Palestine

I see versions of the above image everywhere. It is one of the most successful pieces of political propaganda that I can think of. The region that it describes as “Palestine” and then Israel, from what I have seen through my research, never existed until the British Mandate. I will demonstrate this in later parts, with other maps. For now, a summary from ChatGPT in response to “I can not find “palestine” on any ancient political maps. What was the region of “palestine” before the British Mandate?”:

The term “Palestine” refers to a region in the eastern Mediterranean that has a long and complex history. The concept of a specific geopolitical entity called “Palestine” did not exist as a unified administrative or political entity on ancient maps in the way modern nations are depicted. Instead, the region was inhabited by various peoples, and its boundaries and political control changed over time.

Throughout history, the area now associated with Palestine has been part of various empires and states, including the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic Caliphates, among others. It was an integral part of the Levant and often divided into different administrative regions under different empires or rulers.

During the time of the Roman Empire, the region was known as “Judea” and “Palaestina” (or “Philistia”), the latter term likely deriving from the Philistines, an ancient people who lived in the coastal areas of the region. In the Byzantine period, it was still referred to as “Palaestina.”

The Arab-Muslim conquests in the 7th century brought the region under Islamic rule, and it became part of various Islamic caliphates and dynasties. The Crusaders established several Crusader states in the Levant, including the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which included parts of the region.

Over time, the region known today as Palestine continued to evolve, with shifting political boundaries and demographics. During the Ottoman Empire, it was part of the province of Ottoman Syria and was often divided into smaller administrative districts.

The modern use of the term “Palestine” gained prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the Ottoman Empire was in decline. The region was part of the Ottoman province of Syria during this period. After World War I, the League of Nations granted the British Mandate for Palestine, and the British administered the territory from 1920 to 1948. It was during this time that the political concept of “Palestine” in its modern sense started to take shape.

The boundaries and political identity of the region continued to evolve with the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent Israeli-Arab conflict. The exact borders and political status of the region remain subjects of ongoing debate and negotiations to this day.

ChatGPT 3.5 “I can not find “palestine” on any ancient political maps. What was the region of “palestine” before the British Mandate?”

Trying to understand the Levant, the Middle-East, Israel-Palestine specifically …it isn’t easy from a Western country, from the United States. Historically, the Levant and the Middle-East (two designations with a lot of overlap) are fairly geopolitically significant. It is strategically located at the crossroads of three continents: Asia, Europe, and Africa. It is where several major world religions emerged. he Levant Basin, which includes the eastern Mediterranean, has become increasingly important due to the discovery of natural gas reserves.

Politically, it has mostly been dominated by colonial empires. Already by the 7th Century, the region had been ruled by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim powers. From the 11th-20th Century, the Crusaders, Ayyubid and Mamluk Dynasties, and Ottoman Empire ruled. The decline of the Ottoman Empire is a good time to understand the situation today. Before Zionism, Arab Nationalism, and Palestinian Nationalism, the Ottomans attempted to a project of “Ottomanism“. It was something like a civic nationalism to unify its subjects.

For the most part, those subjects did not own land privately. Some of that began to change under the late Ottoman Empire. But when the Ottomans were defeated and the British Empire had been given a mandate over Palestine by the League of Nations, this changed dramatically with the British Mandate’s Land Registration Ordinance of 1927, 1920 Land Transfer Regulations, and 1921 Haycraft Commission Report. Numerous Jewish organizations acquired land shortly before and during this time: the Jewish National Fund, the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association, Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Hayesod, Histadrut, Youth Movements and Individual Zionist Investors. These acquisitions were mostly through purchase from Arab landowners, which didn’t necessarily mean the people living on that land, it meant large landholders selling land peasants were working. There were thousands of land disputes around these purchases. They also became various forms of property: private, collective, religious, etc.

Palestinian land ownership under the British Mandate came through purchase, inheritance, tenancy and sharecropping, community and communal ownership, and local leaders and notables. This diversity of property types and forms of acquisition lead to a situation today where in Israel, something like 70-75% of land is privately owned. I don’t have a figure for Palestine, but it is also significantly privately owned.

In the US, 60% of land is privately owned with around 38% or so owned by Federal and State governments. In the US, acquisition came through treaties with tribes, purchases such as the Louisiana Purchase, and conquest (like the Mexican-American War). That land was then used for reservations, preservations, government infrastructure, public use, and periodically auctioned or otherwise privatized. We hear about the homesteaders and such, but that isn’t the primary mode of land distribution. Even beyond land, homeownership in the United States is mostly not full (mortgage-free). Only something like 32% of US homes are mortgate-free owned. That includes single-family, trailers, condos, duplexes, etc. In the USA, most people are not landowners or even full homeowners.

Politically, to compare with Israel and Palestine, the history of US land ownership is mostly one of government land being privatized. In Israel and Palestine, it is the other way around. The land was much more “private” and government(s) worked around that situation. his means that in Israel, when one talks about land acquisition, it is a much less coherent situation. Israel didn’t form from the top down. Even its military, the IDF, was formed from the Haganah, Irgun, Lehi, and Palmach. Its incoherence is still noteworthy.

Palestine has had a much more difficult time, of course. Zionists had factions of Jews, but Palestinian nationalism needed to distinguish itself from Arab nationalism. And later, Islamism needed to distinguish itself from Palestinian nationalism. This process of distinction also had consequences for the way that political administration was imagined. Depending on the form of nationalism, political administration is based on different criteria. Arab nationalism rose against the Ottoman Empire. Without the Ottoman Empire and in a context of Arab nationalist state-formation in the Middle-East, Palestine was an interest for other Arab states. In that regard, Israel was also an interest. Islamism also shares some of this broad Middle-Eastern collaboration.

So this puts those who actually live in Palestine and call themselves Palestinians in an awkward situation. From an Israeli perspective, Palestinian territory has been and continues to be a boundary between Israel and the Arab World (or, Islam). This can even extend to a boundary between the West and the East, however many Israelis do not think of themselves as Western. From a Palestinian perspective, this is absurd to be seen as a mere extension and boundary of Arab civilization.

Anyway, before we move away from the British Mandate there are some other facts to highlight. Under the British Mandate, the total population grew from 750,000 to 1.8 million. Natural growth was relatively high, helped by modernization and urbanization. Immigration is the usual focus. Jews and Arabs both migrated to Mandate Palestine. Jews sought escape from persecution and/or realization of Zionist goals. In the beginning, the Balfour Declaration was very encouraging as well. Some Arabs were escaping political instability. However, families spread around the Ottoman empire were re-uniting and Arab landowners investing in the region were also migrating. The biggest factor was of course the Holocaust and WWII. This impacted Jews and Arabs. For both, older and newer nationalist movements wanted to establish themselves against their colonial masters: the British and French. For Arabs, this often also meant against Zionists.

A lot of historical narratives going around right now begin about this time, with 1947-48 as a significant date for both Jews and Palestinians. The British Mandate fell apart. The British Empire was exhausted from the war, Jewish and Arab resistance was relentless, and the United Nations (with United States and Soviet Union support at first), proposed their famous Partition Plan. This would become the beginning of Israel, the Nakba, the Cold War and eventual Soviet abstention from the vote on the UN Partition Plan and interests in Arab states.

Before ending this thread at what seems to many like where it should have begun, it is worth pointing out that the situation then was one with very militant, already battle-engaged nationalist groups fighting in the region. Jews and Palestinians, both stateless, were not at peace.

Digging Deeper into the British Mandate

Below is a summary of promises that were made to “Arabs” by the League of Nations, the British, and so on. By “Arabs,” the major players considered were the Hashemites. In particular, there was the Sharifian Solution. What is fairly clear about all of these considerations is that the actual people living in the region, those who would come to call themselves Palestinians, were not consulted on these matters. The discussions were about Arab control, not Palestinian control. The primary goal being for Arab unity with more-or-less self-determination for specific Arab populations. It was not only the Zionists, nor even the French or British, who understood the situation as negotiation over broadly-Arab rule. In other words, from all sides the Arab World was thought of holistically. The people of Palestine were always going to be connected with the other Arab states and states-to-be:

The League of Nations and other concerned parties made a series of promises and commitments to the Arab population in the context of the British Mandate of Palestine, particularly during and after World War I. These commitments were often articulated in various documents and declarations. Key promises and commitments include:

  1. Hussein-McMahon Correspondence (1915-1916): In this series of letters between Sharif Hussein of Mecca (representing the Arab Revolt) and Sir Henry McMahon (British High Commissioner in Egypt), the British government expressed support for Arab independence in the Arabian Peninsula in exchange for Arab assistance against the Ottoman Empire. While these letters suggested British backing for Arab self-determination, there was ambiguity about the boundaries of this promised Arab state, leading to disputes.
  2. Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916): A secret agreement between the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Russia, the Sykes-Picot Agreement proposed the division of the Middle East into spheres of influence. This contradicted the promise of Arab independence made in the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, as it carved up the region into British and French zones.
  3. Balfour Declaration (1917): Issued by the British government, the Balfour Declaration expressed support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, without prejudice to the “civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” This declaration created tension and conflict, as it seemingly conflicted with the promises made to the Arab population.
  4. League of Nations Mandate for Palestine (1922): The League of Nations granted Britain a mandate over Palestine, which incorporated the text of the Balfour Declaration. It was meant to guide British administration of the territory. The mandate’s text emphasized the establishment of a “Jewish national home” while ensuring the rights of other communities.
  5. White Papers and Statements: Over the years, British governments issued several White Papers and statements to clarify their policies in Palestine. These documents sometimes reaffirmed the commitment to the Balfour Declaration and the “Jewish national home,” while also acknowledging the importance of safeguarding the rights and interests of the Arab population.

These promises and commitments laid the foundation for the complex and contentious situation in Mandate Palestine. The conflicting pledges made to Arabs, Jews, and other stakeholders contributed to the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Arab leaders and communities in the region felt that they were denied the self-determination and sovereignty they had been promised during World War I, and this has remained a source of tension and dispute in the region for many decades.

ChatGPT 3.5 “What promises were made to Arabs by the League of Nations and other concerned parties concerning the British Mandate of Palestine?”

All that said, the Palestinians did try to influence the situation through The Palestine Arab Congress. These attempts however were basically disregarded. While there had already been opposition to Zionism and the Jewish migration its organizations sponsored, the British Mandate and its numerous failures to recognize Palestinian Arab’s situation encouraged even more opposition.

As mentioned before, the land registration and related policies put into practice by the British was an issue. The extent of the issue was not elaborated. Although most residents didn’t own land under the Ottoman Empire, they also didn’t see much of a need to. As land registration became the standard for land claims in the region, many Palestinian Arabs would find out that the land upon which they lived had already been registered to others. Its sale to Zionist organizations was thus often conducted by those who were registered as the owners.

To make matters worse, many Zionists who acquired the land for agricultural production, sometimes called “Labor Zionists,” adhered to the notion of Hebrew Labor. At the outset, the notion of Hebrew Labor was a response to earlier Jewish migrants who were exploiting the cheap labor of Palestinian Arabs. This exploitation was considered unacceptable for nationalist, socialist, and other reasons. Sometimes in theory, but especially in practice meant segregation of Jews and Arabs. For Palestinian Arabs, this combination of Zionist land purchases and refusal to hire them resulted in many losing not only their land, but also their livelihood from working it.

In sum, the antagonisms were well established under the British Mandate. Regardless, both Jews and Arabs managed to fight against subjection to British rule. Both Jews and Arabs thought about this fight as a fight against empire and a fight for national sovereignty. And both Jews and Arabs saw each other as a threat to each others’ nationalist projects.

Before Jewish and Arab Nationalism

It would make no sense to expect anyone to comprehend Jewish or Arab Nationalism without some history about what sorts of categories “Jew” and “Arab” are to begin with. The series of social concepts that we are used to in the United States do much more harm than good when it comes to both groups. Race, ethnicity, and religion alone or in combination are basically useless. That isn’t to say there aren’t Jewish or Arab racial, ethnic, or religious trends; it’s to say that these things are inessential features of Jewish and Arab identity.

One of the reasons why we are familiar with these categories in the United States and befuddled by groups of people that don’t fit neatly into them is because they are modern categories. Jews and Arabs are both ancient peoples and neither group constituted itself based on said modern categories. In other words, it’s an anachronism to use these categories for understanding Jewish and Arab identities.

So anyway, I’ll begin with some things about Jewish history, since it is more familiar territory for me; then, I’ll try to match this with some things about Arab history…

The first difficulty with Jewish history is the word “Jew” itself. There is a frustratingly complicated relationship between the words “Hebrew”, “Israelite”, and “Jew” that I’m going to let ChatGPT summarize:

The terms “Hebrew,” “Israelite,” and “Jew” have been used at different times in history to refer to the people of the region and faith now associated with Judaism. However, these terms have distinct historical and cultural meanings:

  1. Hebrew:
    • Hebrew is an ancient language that has been historically associated with the Hebrew people.
    • The term “Hebrew” was originally used to describe the people who spoke this language. In the context of the Bible, it was often used to refer to the early ancestors of the Israelites.
    • In modern times, the term “Hebrew” is more commonly used to refer to the language itself or as a broader term for the people of the Jewish faith.
  2. Israelite:
    • The term “Israelite” refers to the descendants of Jacob, who was renamed “Israel” in the Bible (Genesis 32:28). Jacob had 12 sons, each of whom became the ancestor of one of the 12 tribes of Israel.
    • The Israelites are specifically those who were part of the 12 tribes of Israel and their descendants.
    • The term “Israelite” is often associated with the historical period of the biblical kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
  3. Jew:
    • “Jew” is a term used to describe a person who follows the Jewish faith, Judaism.
    • It’s more closely associated with the religion and belief system of Judaism.
    • The term “Jew” is often used to refer to both the descendants of the ancient Israelites and converts to Judaism who may not have an Israelite ancestry.

In summary, the terms “Hebrew,” “Israelite,” and “Jew” have different historical and cultural meanings. “Hebrew” primarily relates to the language and, in a broader sense, to the people of the Jewish faith. “Israelite” specifically refers to the descendants of the biblical Jacob (Israel) and their historical context. “Jew” is primarily used to denote followers of the Jewish religion, and it can encompass both descendants of the Israelites and converts to Judaism. Over time, these terms have evolved and can be used interchangeably to some extent, but their specific historical and cultural contexts are important to consider.

ChatGPT 3.5

With that out of the way, there are some things to highlight here. First of all, as a people – Zionist or not – Jews understand themselves as inseparably connected with Israel; at the very least, as the past of who they are. A lot of people, especially a lot of Americans, think that this is a religious belief. It isn’t. It is definitional to the concept of “Jew”. Besides that point, religious texts are not the only, or even the primary source of evidence that Jews today rely on. Genetics, historical documents from other peoples Jews interacted with, and archaeological research are now primary. To really simplify this, Jews are people from Jewland.

The modern world understands what Jews believe as “religion” even though Jews have had numerous philosophical, theological, legal, and political beliefs throughout their history. The god Yahweh and his worship wasn’t even always monotheistic and since those early times in Jewish history, Jews had distinct Jewish religions: First Temple and Second Temple periods, Rabbinical, Secular and Humanistic, Hassidic, etc.

What confuses people even more about Jews is their diaspora. Jewish diaspora is also very confusing to people who don’t understand the relationship between Jewish sects, Christianity, and the Roman Empire. I’m going to skip the Babylonian period of Jewish diaspora and focus on the more recent history.

At Christianity’s origins, which could be called Jesus Christ worship in the sense that Judaism’s origins could be called Yahweh worship, there were 5 different Jewish sects: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots, and Samaritans. When Christianity emerged, it was persecuted by the Roman Empire for 300 years until Emperor Constantine converted and Emperor Theodosius I made Constantine’s version of Christianity the official state religion. By the 6th Century, Rome strictly enforced this religion.

In the mean time, the Roman Empire began persecuting Jews began at the very least when Jews revolted against Roman rule in 66 CE. This lead to the First Jewish-Roman War and by 70 CE, Rome destroyed the Second Temple which inspired migration throughout the Roman Empire. By 132 CE, Rome further suppressed the Jews in response to the Bar Kokhba Revolt. By the 6th Century, Jews had a profoundly different situation. And as far as the rule of Palestine goes, the Byzantine Empire maintained it until the Islamic Caliphates conquered the region in the 7th Century.

Now, let’s discuss the history of the Arab peoples…

Like Jews, language plays a big role in understanding their constitution as a people. Of course, the language isn’t Hebrew, it is Arabic. In a similar way to the relationship between Jews and Israel, Arabs have a relationship with the Arabian Peninsula, which includes Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Jordan. Unlike Israel’s 8,522 square miles, the Arabian Peninsula is 1.1 million square miles.

In the 7th Century, Islam rose and quickly unified Arabs. Islam became an empire through conversion, wars, and conquests by 750 CE. This empire became so vast that it spanned three continents at its peak: Africa, Asia, and Europe. Outside of the century that the Christian Crusaders took over Palestine during the 11th and 12th Centuries, Arabs ruled the region until the Ottoman Turks in the 16th Century.

Arab civilization’s spread also meant many peoples beyond the Arabian Peninsula were “Arabized”. Using ChatGPT to explains something complicated again:

Arabization is a complex historical and cultural process through which non-Arab populations and regions adopt or are influenced by Arabic language, culture, customs, and way of life. This process can manifest in several ways:

  1. Linguistic Arabization: One of the most prominent aspects of Arabization is the adoption of the Arabic language. People in non-Arab regions may start using Arabic as their primary language or incorporate Arabic words and expressions into their native languages. Over time, this linguistic influence can lead to the development of Arabic dialects or the complete adoption of the Arabic language.
  2. Cultural and Religious Influence: Arabization often goes hand in hand with the spread of Islamic culture and customs. Regions that become predominantly Muslim may adopt Arabic script, clothing, food, and architectural styles. This influence can be seen in practices such as calligraphy, Arabesque art, and Islamic architecture.
  3. Religious Conversion: Arabization may accompany the conversion of non-Arab populations to Islam, as the Quran and Islamic practices are typically in Arabic. This conversion can lead to the adoption of Islamic religious rituals and traditions.
  4. Arab Migration and Settlement: In some cases, Arabization results from the migration of Arab communities to non-Arab regions. These Arab communities may settle in these areas and gradually influence the local culture and way of life.
  5. Political and Economic Factors: Arabization can be promoted by political and economic factors, such as the establishment of Arab-controlled governments or the expansion of Arab trade routes. These factors may contribute to the spread of Arabic language and culture.

Arabization has taken place over centuries and has influenced a wide range of regions and populations, from North Africa to the Middle East to parts of South Asia. It’s important to note that Arabization is a complex and multifaceted process, and its impact can vary significantly from one region to another. Additionally, it is often accompanied by cultural exchanges, interactions, and adaptations, and it has played a role in shaping the rich tapestry of the cultures of the Arab world and the regions it has influenced.

I think that it really is necessary to understand at least all of the above to even begin thinking about Israel-Palestine. Of course, it certainly isn’t sufficient to understand all of that. It is necessary because the differences and similarities between Jews and Arabs are certainly important, but even more because there is a lot of confusion about the history of the people who now call themselves Palestinians. For the time being, Palestinian history will have to wait though. The reason why is because to understand Israel-Palestine, the Israel-Arab conflict needs to be understood as a conflict between Jews and Arabs. That was the full scope of the conflict of the period we are focused on: Ottoman Palestine, the British Mandate, and the UN Partition.

This will become more clear later as Palestinian Nationalism is explored, which is in fact a later development that took place. The downside to progressing through the history in this way is that the extent to which Palestinians are unique won’t be at front of mind. At the same time though, when we examine the content of the Palestine Arab Congress, we will see that this uniqueness won’t be central even to their concerns.

Before the British Mandate

Bronze and Iron Ages

Persian Period

Hellenistic Period

Roman Period

Byzantine Period

Early Muslim Period

The Crusades

The Ayyubid dynasty

The Ayyubid dynasty, also known as the Ayyubids, was a Muslim dynasty that ruled over various parts of the Middle East and North Africa during the 12th and 13th centuries. The dynasty was founded by Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, commonly known as Saladin. Here are some key points about the Ayyubid dynasty:

  1. Saladin: Saladin, who became the most famous Ayyubid ruler, was a skilled military leader and politician. He is best known for his role in the recapture of Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187 during the Third Crusade.
  2. Founding: The Ayyubid dynasty was established in the aftermath of the collapse of the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt. Saladin and his family members played a pivotal role in taking control of Egypt and subsequently expanding their rule to other parts of the region.
  3. Control: The Ayyubids controlled significant territories, including Egypt, Syria, parts of Mesopotamia, Yemen, and other areas in the eastern Mediterranean and the Arabian Peninsula.
  4. Religious and Cultural Aspects: The Ayyubid dynasty was deeply influenced by Sunni Islam and often sought to establish Sunni orthodoxy in regions they ruled. They also contributed to the development of Islamic architecture, culture, and scholarship in the territories under their control.
  5. Relations with Crusaders: The Ayyubids were often in conflict with the Crusader states that existed in the Levant (the region encompassing modern-day Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria). Saladin’s victory at the Battle of Hattin in 1187 was a significant turning point in the struggle between the Ayyubids and the Crusaders.
  6. Legacy: The Ayyubid dynasty played a crucial role in the history of the Middle East, both militarily and culturally. Saladin, in particular, is remembered for his efforts to unite Muslim forces against the Crusaders and his chivalrous conduct during the conflicts.

The Ayyubid dynasty eventually gave way to other Muslim rulers, most notably the Mamluks, who came to power in the late 13th century. Nevertheless, the Ayyubids left a lasting legacy in the region, and they are often remembered as a significant chapter in the history of the Islamic world and the Crusades.

ChatGPT3.5 “What was the Ayyubid dynasty?”

The territories administered by the Ayyubid dynasty were characterized by a decentralized and semi-autonomous system of governance. The Ayyubids ruled over a confederation of territories across the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt, Syria, parts of Mesopotamia, Yemen, and other regions. Each of these territories was often under the control of different Ayyubid rulers who were relatives or associates of Saladin, the founder of the dynasty. Here’s how these territories were generally administered:

  1. Regional Governors: Ayyubid territories were divided into provinces or districts, each typically governed by a regional governor or emir. These governors had a considerable degree of autonomy in managing their respective regions and were responsible for local administration, justice, and security.
  2. Local Administration: The governors oversaw local administrative functions such as tax collection, public works, and maintaining law and order in their territories. They often had a council of advisors and officials to help with these tasks.
  3. Legal System: Islamic law (Sharia) was the basis of the legal system in Ayyubid territories. Qadis (judges) were appointed to administer justice and resolve legal disputes in accordance with Islamic jurisprudence. The legal system helped maintain order and resolve conflicts.
  4. Taxation: Taxation was a crucial source of revenue for the Ayyubid rulers. Tax collection was carried out by local officials and tax farmers who were responsible for gathering revenue and sending it to the central treasury.
  5. Military Structure: The Ayyubids maintained a military force, often composed of Mamluk slave-soldiers, to safeguard their territories and protect against external threats. These forces were led by military commanders who reported to the regional governors.
  6. Cultural and Religious Patronage: The Ayyubid rulers were known for their patronage of culture, art, and architecture. They sponsored the construction of mosques, madrasas (educational institutions), and public buildings, contributing to the cultural and intellectual development of their territories.
  7. Diplomacy and Alliances: The Ayyubids engaged in diplomatic relations and alliances with neighboring states and powers, including other Muslim rulers, to navigate regional politics and external threats, such as the Crusader states.

It’s important to note that while there was a degree of decentralization in Ayyubid governance, the dynasty’s effectiveness in maintaining control and unity across its diverse territories was influenced by the leadership, diplomacy, and military prowess of rulers like Saladin. Over time, the power and influence of the Ayyubid dynasty waned, and they were eventually succeeded by other Muslim dynasties, such as the Mamluks, who established more centralized rule in the region.

ChatGPT3.5 “How were territories administered by the Ayyubid dynasty?”

The Mamluk Sultanate

The Mamluks, who were a dynasty of slave-soldiers originally from Central Asia, ruled over various parts of the Islamic world, including Palestine, for a significant portion of their history. The Mamluks took over Palestine in the 13th century.

The Mamluk Sultanate was established in Egypt in 1250 when they overthrew the Ayyubid dynasty, which had been ruling over the region. The Mamluks went on to control a vast empire that included Egypt, Syria, and parts of what is now Israel and Palestine. They held control over the region until the early 16th century when they were defeated by the Ottoman Empire, which subsequently took control of Palestine and other Mamluk territories.

Chat GPT3.5 “When did the Mamluk take over Palestine?”

The Mamluk Sultanate administered its territories through a combination of centralized and decentralized systems, and their governance evolved over time. Here are some key aspects of how the Mamluks administered their territories:

  1. Centralized Authority: The Mamluk Sultanate had a central authority in the form of the sultan and his senior officials. The sultan was the ultimate ruler, and he appointed high-ranking officials to oversee various aspects of governance, including finance, military, and justice.
  2. Provincial Governors: The Mamluks divided their territories into provinces or districts, each governed by an appointed provincial governor or emir. These provincial governors had significant autonomy in managing their regions but ultimately answered to the central authority of the sultan.
  3. Military Structure: The Mamluks relied heavily on their military forces, which were composed of Mamluk slave-soldiers. These Mamluks were typically trained from a young age and were loyal to the sultan. The military played a central role in maintaining control over the territories.
  4. Taxation: The Mamluks levied taxes on the population to fund the government and military. Tax collection was managed by local officials and tax farmers who were responsible for ensuring revenue reached the central treasury.
  5. Legal System: The Mamluks had a well-developed legal system. Islamic law (Sharia) was the basis for the legal framework, and qadis (judges) were appointed to administer justice and resolve disputes. The legal system helped maintain order and resolve conflicts within the territories.
  6. Public Works and Infrastructure: The Mamluks invested in public works, including the construction of mosques, madrasas (educational institutions), and public buildings. They also improved infrastructure such as roads and water supply systems to support economic and social development.
  7. Patronage of Culture and Art: The Mamluks were known for their patronage of culture and the arts. They sponsored the construction of architectural marvels and the production of manuscripts, art, and literature. This cultural patronage contributed to the flourishing of Islamic art and scholarship during their rule.

It’s important to note that Mamluk governance evolved over the centuries and could vary from one period to another. The Mamluk Sultanate faced internal strife and external threats during its existence, which influenced its administration and policies. Nonetheless, their ability to maintain control over a diverse and expansive territory for several centuries demonstrates their effectiveness in governance and leadership.

ChatGPT3.5 “How did the Mamluk Sultanate administer territories?”

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire had a complex administrative structure with various administrative divisions. At its height, the empire was divided into several key administrative units:

  1. Vilayets: These were the largest administrative divisions, similar to provinces. Each vilayet was headed by a governor called a “Vali.” For example, Jerusalem was the capital of the Vilayet of Syria, which included parts of present-day Palestine.
  2. Sanjaks: Each vilayet was further divided into sanjaks, which were smaller administrative districts. Sanjaks were headed by a governor or a sanjak bey.
  3. Kazas: These were sub-districts within the sanjaks, and they were administered by a kadi (judge).
  4. Nahiyes: These were even smaller administrative units, often corresponding to towns or villages.
  5. Villages and Tribes: Beyond the formal administrative divisions, many areas were governed by local tribal leaders and village elders.

The administrative structure of the Ottoman Empire evolved over time and could vary in different regions. Keep in mind that the empire lasted for several centuries, so administrative divisions changed over the years.

Occupied Enemy Territory Administration

Modernity: the Enlightenment, the Nahda, and the Haskala

Jewish materialism illuminates a larger phenomenon that appeared in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, especially in the context of struggles for sovereignty and equal access to resources. During this period, we see the conscious reformulation of religious traditions through the lens of “materialism.” The history of Catholicism in Polish lands (and more generally in eastern Europe) offers one such parallel case study. According to Brian Porter-Szűcs, defining the development of modern Poland in terms of a “secularization process” obscures the way in which Catholicism had, in one sense, gained more importance for Poles in political terms. What began as a faith adopted by a large contingent of people living in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth later became a universal messianic ideal in the writings of the poet Adam Mickiewicz and eventually a religion that justified the exclusivist and racialist positions e pounded by Poland’s Christian Democratic Party. By the twentieth century Poles had come to view Catholicism as a socioethnic marker instead of as a spiritual system based on Roman doctrines. Although the case of Catholicism in Poland tends to highlight the amalgamation of theology and state-based positivism (more than materialism), it remains an important example of how religion was theorized in material terms.

More historically contemporaneous points of comparison to the forms of Jewish materialism advanced in the 1870s can be found in colonial settings. Most notably, it is mirrored in the “Islamic materialism” developed by the Young Turks in the late Ottoman Empire. According to M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, “a bi-directional process . . . transformed Islam into a materialist philosophy, and at the same time made materialist philosophy Islamic.” Science was conceived of as a sacred endeavor; engaging in scientific research was deemed a ritual, and its practitioners were called clerics. Advocates of “Islamic materialism,” such as the Young Turk theorist Abdullah Cevdet, were not religious apologists attempting to reconcile Islam and modern science but rather the opposite. They were endowing science and people’s physical well-being with new Islamic value. As with Jewish materialism, the form of Islamic materialism developed in the late nineteenth century “was far more than a device for countering accusations of atheism . . . rather it was the creation of a brand new ideology presented as Islam.” Its goals were not to defend Islam against a new scientific ideology but to impart metaphysical importance to scientific discoveries.

The rise of Islamic materialism was said to have had an “enormous” effect on Turkish nationalism and upon Mustafa Kemal’s worldview, most notably in his attempt to structure Turkey’s religious establishment around a progressive notion of faith. Kemal’s secularism did not banish religion from all spheres of life; rather, it demanded that Muslim clerics bestow Islamic value on Turkey’s scientific and technological advancements.

Hinduism represents the most radical example of an embattled collective consciously reconfiguring (some claim creating) a belief system in line with materialist principles. As with Judaism, this fusion first emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century among what some scholars refer to as “reformist” Hindu thinkers, individuals who asserted that “science seemed to justify and intensify their religiosity.” This process can be seen in various competing Hindu national movements.

Most notably, staunch nationalists like the Indian independence advocate V. D. Savarkar gave spiritual value to Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, and Herbert Spencer’s theory of “survival of the fittest.” Savarkar encouraged the transformation of India from a “fatherland” into a “Holyland” for Hindus. Those included under the rubric of “Hindus,” explains the anthropologist Peter van der Veer, were considered to be of a distinct racial ethnic group.

Hindus’ racial purity was placed on par with that of Jews. This version of Hinduism was devoid of dogmas and clerics, and made few references to Indian gods. Savarkar attempted to distinguish what he termed Hindutva (Hindu-ness) from Hinduism. In doing so, he differentiated between a Hindu civilization and the religion of Hinduism. He did not, however, do away with the 18 introduction metaphysical claims associated with Hinduism. Instead he marshaled them to justify particularistic claims over what ostensibly appeared to be universal matter. Explaining what constituted a distinctly Hindu civilization, Savarkar wrote, “If matter is the creation of the Lord, then civilization is the miniature secondary creation of man. At its best it is the perfect triumph of the soul of man over matter and man alike. Wherever and to the extent to which man has succeeded in moulding matter to the delight of his soul, civilization begins.” Here too, Savarkar was not engaged in religious apologetics (he considered himself an atheist). He was endowing universal matter with Hindu values—something that he claimed even God could not do. By invoking God as the creator of matter, Savarkar argued that while we may not know the origins of the physical world, what is critical is the way human beings shape it and use it.

Even at the other end of the spectrum, a strong materialist premise undergirded “spiritualist” reinterpretations of Hinduism, such as those advanced by Swami Vivekananda. As noted by the scholar Margaret Chatterjee, Vivekananda’s economic theology mirrored that of certain socialist strands of Zionism in promoting “the redemptive role of labor.” While Vivekananda is often cited for his denunciation of crass “Western materialism,” he was equally adamant in declaring that it was against religious principles and “an insult to a starving man to teach him metaphysics.” He emphasized that Hinduism needed to be reformulated with an eye toward addressing social idleness and people’s material well-being. Human beings, he argued, could not be reduced to labor, but it was through labor that that they were able to worship God.

Social and political differences aside, these cases illuminate the ways various late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century groups consciously infused land, labor, and people with metaphysical value. In all of these cases imperial regimes were blocking collectives from invoking principles of population size and demography to justify their claim over land, labor, and people. When imperial regimes disregarded representational politics or defined them in a manner that ensured the marginalization of certain collectives, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, and Hindus turned to other systems of value to make claims on the physical world. Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Catholics invoked their respective religions as a way to argue for a more equal and fair universal distribution of resources.

Against Empire(s): Jewish and Arab Nationalism

Zionism and not Zionism

Arab and Pan-Arab Nationalisms

Islamic Nationalisms

Against Capital: Jewish and Arab Communism, Socialism, and Anarchism

It can be readily seen how far this conception was from Borochov’s notion that Palestine ought to be developed along a capitalist model (as a prelude to the class struggle). Yet even Borochov’s friend and comrade Ben-Zvi now supported this idea. The Palestinian Poale Zionists, having actually lived in the land, concluded that the Russian Poale Zion’s perspective was untenable. Even before 1909, Rachel Yanait records, the Palestinians’ view was that they “were moving far from the dogmas followed by Poale Zion abroad. Our movement here [in Palestine] was shaped by the new life, by the actual needs of the workers who were winning the Land back by the work of their hands. The movement abroad must adjust itself to this new reality. “50 Kaplansky argued for the creation of a Jewish peasantry organized cooperatively, for he asserted that only those working a land could own it. In contrast, Borochov argued that the industrial sector was more important than the agricultural, and cooperative settlements would only succeed with outside (bourgeois) backing and therefore bourgeois control. In a country moving toward capitalism, such cooperatives would become isolated socialist islands. The strategy should therefore be one of a more normal class development, class struggle, and socialist revolution.51

Borochov lost on this and several other matters. The debate seems to have been one in which Borochovism was defeated by those affirming many aspects of Borochov’s earlier approach-a Ussishkin-Bilu-Oppenheimer pioneering synthesis. In retrospect it also paralleled in some ways the ongoing dispute between Marxist and anarchist models of reshaping society-the former through mass struggle, the latter through alternative community building. Indeed, during the period of the Second Aliyah ( 1904-1914), a second labor party (apart from Poale Zion) was formed in Palestine called Hapoel Hatzair (the young worker), whose orientation was much closer to the ideas of Proudhon and Gustav Landauer than to European social democracy.

When placed within the context of Palestine and the Zionist efforts there during 1900- 1920, the picture becomes more complex. Borochov assumed a model of normal <;apitalist development in that land, leading to a proletarian class struggle against the bourgeoisie. However, while the new Jewish nation in Palestine was being “normalized” to the extent that Jews were more and more occupying roles in all sectors of the economy (like most other nations, but unlike Diaspora Jewry), this evolution did not take place in conditions that could be characterized as normal. The Zionists found themselves in battle with the Turks, the British, and the Arabs. Facing vehement opposition to their very presence, Borochov’s class-struggle model was hardly tenable. Ironically, this was because of the realities of the national struggle between the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs. Given these adversities, the foundation of a Jewish laboring class became cooperative Jewish settlements which was then followed by an urban sector and trade union movement. On the other hand, while this labor movement led the way to statehood, Israeli society later drifted further and further from socialism and, as Borochov predicted, the kibbutzim more and more became islands of utopian socialism.

Class Struggle and the Jewish Nation: Selected Essays in Marxist Zionism – Introduction: Ber Borochov and Socialist Zionism – pg 27-28

Long before Engels’s eulogy for Marx in 1883, Hess had equated the German philosopher’s insights on history and economics with Darwin’s scientific theories. In his final, posthumously published work, The Dynamic Theory of Matter (Dynamische Stofflehre, 1877), Hess went farther, merging biblical notions of creation and messianism with new biological and economic forms of materialism. While Hess’s project represented an important development in the history of Judaism and the relationship between materialism and late-nineteenth-century nationalism, Russian Jewish intellectuals were unaware of his work in the 1870s. When it finally received the attention of a Jewish audience, it was not claimed by Marxists but rather by Cultural Zionists, who were attracted to Hess’s reinterpretation of Jews as a national entity.

Among Russian Jews, Aaron Shemuel Lieberman, Judah Leib Levin, and Isaac Kaminer became known as the first and most influential Jewish interpreters of Marx’s practical materialism.

Eliyahu Stern’s Jewish-Materialism: The Intellectual Revolution of the 1870s, page 16-19

An extended timeline that includes the pre-1920s period with groups like Poale Zion and early developments:

Late 19th Century:

  • Late 1800s: As socialist and communist ideas were spreading globally, various Jewish socialist movements, such as Poale Zion, emerged in Eastern Europe and the Russian Empire. Poale Zion was founded in 1901 and advocated for Jewish workers’ rights and socialist principles.

Early 20th Century:

  • Early 1900s: Poale Zion and other Jewish socialist groups expanded their influence, including in the Middle East.
  • 1917: The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the subsequent Russian Civil War had an impact on leftist movements in the region.
  • 1919: The founding of the Communist International (Comintern) by the Soviet Union had a global influence on the spread of communist ideas, including in the Middle East.


  • 1944: The Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) was founded in Iraq, with some leftist and socialist elements.
  • 1952: The Free Officers Movement led by Gamal Abdel Nasser seized power in Egypt, leading to the rise of Arab socialism and the nationalization of key industries.


  • 1960: The Ba’ath Party came to power in Iraq, promoting a mix of Arab nationalism and socialism.
  • 1963: A Ba’athist coup in Syria led to the establishment of a socialist state.
  • 1967: The Six-Day War had a significant impact on the region, leading to the emergence of various leftist and Palestinian liberation movements.
  • 1969: The People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) was established, adopting a Marxist-Leninist ideology.


  • 1980-1988: The Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War had a major impact on the region, reshaping political alliances and ideologies.
  • Late 1980s: The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc had implications for communist movements worldwide, including those in the Middle East.

21st Century:

  • 2011: The Arab Spring uprisings led to political changes in several Middle Eastern countries, but the outcomes varied, and socialist and communist movements had mixed involvement.
  • Today, some political parties in the region still identify as socialist or communist, but the influence of these ideologies varies from one country to another.

Throughout this timeline, various socialist and communist movements and ideas influenced the political landscape of the Middle East, with ties to global developments and regional dynamics. The interplay between socialism, nationalism, and other ideological currents in the region has shaped the complex political history of the Middle East.

Anarchism has had a presence in the Middle East, with its ideas and movements emerging during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the history of anarchism in the Middle East is complex and often intertwined with broader political and social movements. Here’s a simplified timeline of anarchism in the region:

Late 19th Century:

  • Late 19th century: Anarchist ideas started to gain some traction in the Middle East, particularly among intellectuals and political activists influenced by European and Russian anarchist thought.

Early 20th Century:

  • Early 20th century: Anarchist groups and circles began forming, with some of the earliest anarchist publications and activities occurring in places like Istanbul and Cairo.


  • 1910s: Anarchism gained momentum during this period. Anarchist publications, such as “Al-Muntada” in Egypt and “Yasak” in Istanbul, began to circulate, promoting anarchist ideas.
  • 1920s: Anarchist ideas and movements continued to develop in parts of the Middle East. During this period, the Russian Revolution and the rise of communism had an impact on leftist and anarchist movements in the region.


  • 1930s-1940s: Anarchism faced challenges and ideological competition, particularly from communism. Some anarchists aligned themselves with leftist and anti-colonial movements.


  • 1950s-1960s: Anarchism experienced a resurgence in some Middle Eastern countries. Anarchist groups and publications emerged, and anarchism became more closely associated with anti-authoritarian and anti-imperialist movements.


  • 1970s: The New Left and student movements in the Middle East influenced by global leftist ideas brought a resurgence of interest in anarchist thought.
  • 21st century: While anarchism remains a minor political current in the Middle East, there are individuals and small groups that identify with anarchist principles, often in the context of anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist activism.

It’s important to note that the history of anarchism in the Middle East is diverse, and its influence has waxed and waned over the years. Anarchism in the region has often intersected with other political and social movements, including anti-colonial struggles and anti-authoritarian activism. The impact and visibility of anarchism in the Middle East have varied from one country to another and have been shaped by local and global political dynamics.


Kibbutzim, Moshavim, and Mushtaraka

Kibbutzim (קִבּוּצִים)

The first kibbutz, Degania, was founded in 1909 in what was then Ottoman Palestine. Degania and other kibbutzim that followed were established as collective agricultural communities by Jewish immigrants, largely from Eastern Europe. The kibbutz movement was deeply rooted in the Zionist ideal of reclaiming the land of Israel and creating a new Jewish society based on socialist and communal principles.

By 1948, the year of Israel’s establishment as a modern nation-state, the kibbutz movement had grown significantly. Some key points about the status of kibbutzim by 1948 include:

  1. Growth: The kibbutz movement had expanded to include many kibbutzim across the land of Israel (now Israel), with a growing number of members and residents.
  2. Collective Living: Kibbutzim remained committed to the principles of collective living, where members collectively owned and managed resources, worked together in agriculture and other industries, and shared responsibilities for the community.
  3. Socialist Ideals: Kibbutzim were grounded in socialist and utopian ideals, emphasizing economic equality, social justice, and self-sufficiency. They aimed to create a society where property and resources were collectively owned, and individualism was minimized.
  4. Agriculture: Agriculture was a central focus of kibbutzim, and many of them were engaged in farming, helping to develop the agricultural sector of the new state.
  5. Contributions to Statehood: Kibbutzim played a significant role in the establishment of the State of Israel. Many kibbutz members were involved in defense efforts, including the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary organization that later became part of the Israel Defense Forces.
  6. Political and Economic Challenges: Despite their growth and contributions, kibbutzim also faced challenges, including financial difficulties, debates over their socialist principles, and occasional tensions with the emerging Israeli government.

It’s important to note that the kibbutz movement has evolved over the decades, with many kibbutzim undergoing various transformations in their economic and social structures. Some kibbutzim have transitioned from pure collectivism to more mixed models that allow for greater individual property ownership and economic diversity.

By 1948, the kibbutzim were a vital and diverse part of Israeli society, with a significant impact on the country’s development, both economically and ideologically. They remain a unique and important element of Israeli culture and history.

My apologies for the oversight. The dates within the parentheses should indeed be in chronological order. Here’s the corrected list with the dates in the proper order:

  1. Degania (1909)
  2. Kibbutz Kfar Giladi (1916)
  3. Kibbutz Ein Harod (1921)
  4. Kibbutz Gvat (1926)
  5. Kibbutz Beit Alfa (1923)
  6. Kibbutz Ramat Rachel (1926)
  7. Kibbutz Givat Brenner (1928)
  8. Kibbutz Yagur (1922)
  9. Kibbutz Ma’abarot (1933)
  10. Kibbutz Afikim (1932)
  11. Kibbutz Dafna (1939)
  12. Kibbutz Nir David (1936)
  13. Kibbutz Ga’aton (1935)
  14. Kibbutz Ein Shemer (1933)
  15. Kibbutz Ginosar (1937)
  16. Kibbutz Ein Gev (1937)
  17. Kibbutz Yiftah (1934)
  18. Kibbutz Kfar Blum (1943)
  19. Kibbutz Revivim (1943)
  20. Kibbutz Ein Tzurim (1946)
  21. Kibbutz Sde Boker (1952)
  22. Kibbutz Metzer (1953)
  23. Kibbutz Kfar Szold (1942)

Moshavim (מוֹשָבִים)

In the early 20th century, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel and during the period of British Mandate in Palestine, there were similar collective and communal agricultural practices among Arab communities in the region. These were known as “moshavim” or “musha” (singular: “mash’a”). While these communal arrangements were not identical to the kibbutzim, they shared some similarities, particularly in their focus on collective agriculture and cooperative living.

Key points about Arab communal agricultural practices in Palestine at the time include:

  1. Moshavim: The term “moshav” or “moshavim” (plural) was used to describe Arab collective agricultural communities that practiced communal land cultivation and resource sharing.
  2. Land Use: In moshavim, land was often held collectively or by extended families, and residents cooperated in agricultural activities, including farming and sharing the produce.
  3. Self-Sufficiency: Like the kibbutzim, these communities aimed to achieve a degree of self-sufficiency in agricultural production.
  4. Variability: The organization and structure of moshavim varied, and they could be found in different parts of Palestine with variations in land tenure, governance, and agricultural practices.

It’s important to note that the historical, social, and political contexts of Arab and Jewish communities in Palestine were distinct, and the objectives of these communal practices differed. While Jewish kibbutzim were often motivated by Zionist ideals of reclaiming the land of Israel and establishing a Jewish homeland, Arab moshavim had their own unique historical and cultural background.

Mustaraka (مشتركة)

The establishment of the State of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict significantly impacted the status of both Jewish and Arab communal communities in the region, leading to changes in land tenure, property rights, and the overall social and political landscape.

The term “mushtaraka” (مشتركة) in the context of historic Palestine refers to communal or collective agricultural practices, similar to the moshavot or moshavim in Jewish communities. These communal agricultural arrangements were primarily found in Arab communities in Palestine. Here are some key points about “mushtaraka” in historic Palestine:

  1. Collective Farming: Mushtaraka referred to a system where land and agricultural resources were collectively owned and managed by the members of the community or extended families. This allowed for cooperative and collective farming practices.
  2. Resource Sharing: Members of the mushtaraka shared the responsibilities of cultivation, planting, and harvesting of crops. Resources like land, water, and tools were commonly held in common.
  3. Self-Sufficiency: The primary aim of mushtaraka communities was to achieve self-sufficiency in agriculture. They cultivated a variety of crops and often raised livestock to provide for the needs of the community.
  4. Local Variations: Mushtaraka communities were diverse, and the specific organization and management of each mushtaraka could vary depending on local customs and traditions. These arrangements were adapted to the specific needs and conditions of each community.
  5. Social and Economic Cooperation: Beyond agriculture, mushtaraka often involved social and economic cooperation. Members would cooperate in tasks beyond farming, such as education and healthcare, to strengthen the community.
  6. Historical Significance: Mushtaraka communities have historical significance in the Palestinian context. They reflect a form of collective land tenure and resource management that predates the establishment of the State of Israel and the ensuing changes in land ownership and land-use patterns in the region.

It’s important to note that the historical and political context in Palestine, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict and the establishment of Israel, had a significant impact on the status and sustainability of mushtaraka communities in the region. Many of these communal practices evolved and adapted to changing circumstances and challenges.

The history and status of “mushtaraka” (مشتركة) in historic Palestine and contemporary times are complex, and they have evolved significantly over the years. Here’s an overview of the history and current status:

Historical Background:

  • Pre-20th Century: The concept of mushtaraka, referring to communal or collective agricultural practices, has a long history in the region, predating the modern political developments in Palestine. These practices often reflected traditional communal land management and resource-sharing arrangements among Arab communities.
  • British Mandate: During the British Mandate period in Palestine (1920-1948), communal land tenure arrangements existed in both Arab and Jewish communities. Arab agricultural practices, including mushtaraka, were deeply connected to local traditions and agricultural needs.
  • 1948 Arab-Israeli War: The 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the establishment of the State of Israel led to significant changes in land ownership and land-use patterns in the region. Many Arab communities were displaced, leading to the disruption of traditional agricultural practices, including mushtaraka.

Current Status:

  • Challenges and Changes: Over the years, the status of mushtaraka communities has undergone various changes. The challenges of the Arab-Israeli conflict, land dispossession, and changes in land ownership have affected the sustainability of these communal practices.
  • Adaptation: Some communities have adapted to the changing circumstances by transitioning to different agricultural models or by seeking opportunities in other economic sectors. The traditional mushtaraka practices, which were more prevalent in the early 20th century, have become less common.
  • Revival and Preservation: In recent years, there have been efforts to document and preserve the history of mushtaraka communities and their practices. Some organizations and researchers are working to record the oral histories and traditions associated with these communities.
  • Diverse Experiences: The current status of mushtaraka communities can vary widely depending on the specific community, location, and individual circumstances. Some may have maintained aspects of communal living and agricultural practices, while others have transitioned to different economic models.

In summary, mushtaraka communities in historic Palestine had a rich history of communal agricultural practices, but the historical and political developments in the region, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict, significantly impacted their status and sustainability. While some aspects of these practices have been preserved, they have evolved and diversified over time. The status of mushtaraka communities today varies, with some continuing traditional practices and others adapting to modern challenges and opportunities.

There may be limited published works specifically dedicated to “mushtaraka” practices in historic Palestine, as these communal agricultural practices have largely been a part of local and oral traditions. However, you can explore broader literature on communal agriculture, land tenure, and Palestinian history to gain insights into these practices. Here are some books and resources that touch on related topics and can provide valuable information:

  1. “Agrarian Transformation in the Arab World: Persistent and Emerging Challenges” edited by Habib Ayeb and Ray Bush
  • This book delves into agrarian issues in the Arab world, including aspects of communal and traditional land management practices.
  1. “The Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel, 1948-2000: A Political Study” by Jacob M. Landau
  • This book discusses the history of Palestinian Arabs in Israel and their experiences, including aspects of land and agriculture.
  1. “Palestine and the Palestinians: A Social and Political History” by Samih K. Farsoun and Christina E. Zacharia
  • This comprehensive book provides historical and sociopolitical context about the Palestinian people and their experiences, including aspects of land use and communal practices.
  1. “The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017” by Rashid Khalidi
  • While primarily a historical analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this book discusses land-related issues and the impact of settler colonialism on Palestinian land use.
  1. “The Land That Remains: Palestinian Agriculture and Land Use Under Israeli Occupation” edited by Rami Zurayk and Bassam Abu Hamad
  • This collection of essays explores the challenges and changes in Palestinian agriculture and land use under Israeli occupation.
  1. Academic Journals: Academic journals focused on Middle Eastern studies and agriculture may contain articles on mushtaraka practices and related topics. Examples include the “Journal of Palestine Studies” and “Food and Foodways.”

While specific books on mushtaraka practices may be limited, these resources provide valuable historical, political, and social context for understanding communal agricultural practices in Palestine and the broader Arab world. You may also consider academic papers, theses, and dissertations for more in-depth research on this topic.

The Colonial Question: Round 1

Colonialism is a historical and political system in which one country, known as the colonial power, establishes control over other regions or territories, often far from its own borders. This control can be economic, political, social, and cultural. There are different types of colonialism, including:

  1. Settler Colonialism: In this type, the colonial power sends settlers to establish permanent communities in the colonized territory. They often displace or suppress the indigenous population. Examples include British colonialism in North America and Australia.
  2. Exploitative Colonialism: This form focuses primarily on economic exploitation. The colonial power extracts resources from the colony without significant attempts at cultural or social transformation. An example is Belgian colonialism in the Congo.
  3. Administrative Colonialism: The colonial power maintains direct control through its own administrators, often with minimal involvement of settlers. French colonialism in parts of Africa is an example of this type.
  4. Neocolonialism: This is a more subtle and contemporary form of colonialism where a country, through economic or political influence, maintains control or exerts influence over another nation. It’s often associated with economic exploitation and political dominance without direct territorial control.
  5. Informal Imperialism: In this type, there may not be a formal colonial structure, but a powerful nation exercises considerable influence over a weaker nation, often through economic, political, or military means.
  6. Decolonization: While not a type of colonialism, it’s worth noting that decolonization refers to the process of formerly colonized regions gaining independence and sovereignty, often through political movements and struggles.

At this point, we can ask “the Colonial Question” for the first time. It will need to be asked again at least one, if not two or three more times. The reason this is only the first time it needs to be asked is because the power dynamics in the region will shift again and again. With each major shift, it is appropriate to reassess.

Accusations of Zionists being colonizers in Palestine stem from the historical context of the establishment of the State of Israel. The term “colonizer” is used in this context to describe the Zionist movement’s efforts to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The reasons for this accusation have evolved over time and are viewed differently by different groups. Here’s a brief overview of how these accusations have evolved:

  1. Historical Perspective:
  • Early Zionism: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jewish Zionists sought to establish a national homeland in Palestine, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire. Some viewed this as a form of settler colonialism, akin to European colonial projects in Africa and Asia.
  1. British Mandate Period:
  • During the British Mandate in Palestine (1920-1948), Jewish immigration and land acquisition increased, leading to tensions with the Arab population. Accusations of Zionism as a form of colonialism intensified, as the Zionist movement was perceived as working in tandem with British colonial interests.
  1. Post-World War II and UN Partition:
  • The United Nations approved the partition of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states in 1947. This decision was seen by some as a colonial imposition, as it was made without the consent of the indigenous Arab population.
  1. Post-1948 (Israel’s Independence):
  • The Arab-Israeli conflict and Palestinian displacement in 1948 further solidified the accusation of colonization, as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became refugees.
  1. Post-1967 (Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip):
  • After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, leading to continued accusations of colonialism due to the expansion of Israeli settlements in these territories.
  1. Contemporary Perspectives:
  • Today, the accusation of colonialism remains a contentious and divisive issue. Some view Israel’s actions in the occupied territories as a form of settler colonialism, while others argue that the historical context and security concerns justify Israel’s policies.

The accusation of Zionists as colonizers in Palestine has evolved over time, influenced by the changing dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, international perspectives, and shifts in public opinion. It is essential to consider the diverse viewpoints on this issue and the historical complexities that surround it.

This article is a good example of how the case is usually made for the colonial status of pre-State Zionist settlement and Israel’s status as a colonial state:

A potentially useful source which is not cited in the current article or the one on settler colonialism is the 2006 article by Bashir Abu-Manneh[4][5][6] in New Formations Volume 2006 Issue 59 called “Israel in US Empire”[7]. A copy is stored on the University of Kent archive here.

A source which is cited in the current article, but not in the one on settler colonialism is Elia Zureik’s “Israel’s Colonial Project in Palestine, Brutal Pursuit” (2016, Routledge Studies on the Arab-Israeli Conflict). A full copy of the book is available at the domain.

Some other sources making references which are perhaps of interest:

1. “Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict” (2015) by John B. Judis:

Page 82.4 / 970 of the electronic edition:”Ben-Gurion and the socialist Zionists wanted to avoid being seen as colonialists, but they ended up replacing the colonialism of the European settler in Africa who exploited the native laborers with the colonialism of the European settler in North America who displaced rather than employed the Native Americans who lived on the lands they coveted. Moreover, in justifying their displacement of Arab labor, the Zionists invoked the same arguments that European settler colonialists had used in Australia, Africa, and North America: they were putting to good use lands the Arabs had desolated.”

With regard to “Zionists [invoking] the same arguments that European settler colonialists had used”, examples found elsewhere in the book include:

Page 65.0 / 970:”Herzl’s appeal was geopolitical but also cultural, reflecting the widespread European justification of imperialism as an instrument of civilization. The new state, he promised, “should there form a part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism.” The writer Max Nordau, who would become Herzl’s second-in-command in the Zionist movement, agreed. “We will endeavor to do in the Near East what the English did in India. It is our intention to come to Palestine as the representatives of culture and to take the moral borders of Europe to the Euphrates.” … But, like other Europeans during this age of imperialism, he viewed the natives in Asia, Africa, and Latin America as lesser beings who could be bought off—and, if that failed, subjugated.”

Page 79.3 / 970:”Gordon’s vision of a Jewish nation and state could be described as an ethnocracy. It excluded not only Arab labor but the Arab people themselves. Gordon acknowledged that Arabs had “a historical right to the country, just as we do,” but he claimed that the Jewish right “is undoubtedly greater.” “And what did the Arabs produce in all the years they lived in the country?” he asked. “Such creations, or even the creation of the Bible alone, give us a perpetual right over the land in which we were so creative, especially since the people that came after us did not create such works in this country, or did not create anything at all.”58 Gordon added: “Some hold that when we come to Palestine to settle upon the land, we are dispossessing Arabs who are its natural masters. But what does this term mean? If mastery of the land implies political mastery, then the Arabs have long ago forfeited their title.” Ahad Ha’am’s vision of Palestine left an opening for compromise with its existing inhabitants. Gordon’s did not; and Gordon’s vision of nationhood eventually superseded that of Ahad Ha’am. Ben-Gurion, Katznelson, and the socialist Zionists who arrived during the Second Aliyah still gave some adherence to international socialism, but they subordinated the dictates of the international class struggle to the attempt to create a Jewish state. Zeev Sternhell calls them “nationalist socialists.” Within nationalist socialism, there was still room for concern about Arab workers and their fate; and at intervals over their first thirty years in Palestine, some of the socialists would voice support for a more democratic or binational Palestine.”

Page 294.8 / 970:”Faced with an Arab challenge, backed up by Europe’s fascists and Nazis, Labor Zionists declared themselves victims of a “feudalist-imperialist” coalition. The Arab “savages” were now part of this “feudalist-imperialist” coalition led by Nazi Germany. Over the next decades, even after the Allied victory in World War II and the collapse of Western colonialism in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, Zionists and later Israelis would continue to view their conflict with the Arabs through this twin prism of higher versus lower races and democracy against fascism and Nazism. They continued to describe Arabs as savages and barbarians, and their leaders as the heirs of Hitler. That included the mufti after World War II, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, PLO leader Yasir Arafat, and Hamas’s Khaled Meshal. Such a view highlighted Zionism as a national liberation movement for oppressed Jewry and ally of the world’s advanced democracies and obscured its role as a settler-colonial movement that had displaced or driven out a native population.”

Page 324.1 / 970:”Declaring that “colonization on a large scale is the greatest work of national life,” Asher asserted that the Jews were following the example of the British in Southern and Central Africa and in Australia and New England who had turned “barren deserts … into places of habitation … The attempts of other nations in other parts of the world give us courage.””

Page p368.8 / 970:”One factor that may have encouraged this was the imperial mind-set with which many Americans and Europeans viewed Palestine’s Arabs. Herzl had displayed this mind-set in saying that Palestinian Arabs could be won over to Jewish rule by the prosperity that Jews would bring to Palestinians. More advanced peoples might covet self-rule, but primitives would be satisfied with bread on the table. Brandeis and his circle shared this view. Palestine’s Arabs, Wise wrote, “do not desire anything particularly except food. They are … in the depths of primitive life.” … Americans, of course, didn’t have to look to Europe to acquire a hierarchical view of humanity that justified conquest. Americans had invoked the need to civilize savage races to justify Indian removal and Manifest Destiny. Brandeis and his circle viewed the Zionist settlers as “pioneers,” “pilgrims,” and “puritans” and the Arabs as “Indians.” The comparison was partly an apt one. America was the original settler colony where the immigrants displaced the native inhabitants and eventually established a state of their own. Brandeis saw it as justifying Jews displacing Arabs in Palestine. Until well after World War II, the rout of the Indians was seen as a triumph of civilization over savagery. In his Winning of the West, Theodore Roosevelt wrote of the Indian Wars that “the struggle could not possibly have been avoided. Unless we were willing that the whole continent west of the Alleghenies should remain an unpeopled waste, the hunting ground of savages, war was inevitable … It is wholly impossible to avoid conflicts with the weaker race.” Brandeis and other progressives saw the conflict between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine similarly.”

Page p629.0 / 970:”The Zionist leaders preferred that Arabs in a Jewish state become citizens of the Arab state. In that case, Ben-Gurion said, “we would be able to expel them.””

2. “Dear Palestine, A Social History of the 1948 War” (2021) – Shay Hazkani:”For many early Zionists, including the founding father of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, European settler colonialism — especially the German experience before the First World War — was a model. In the German case, the Colonization Commission (Ansiedlungskommission), set up in 1886 by Otto von Bismarck, worked to transfer lands from Polish to German ownership in Poznan and West Prussia in order to transform the demographic balance there and reduce the Slavs to a minority population, subdued and depoliticized. The commission bought large farms from Poles, divided them into small parcels, and settled German farmers on them. Arthur Ruppin, who headed the Palestine office of the Zionist Organization (ZO), was born in Poznan and explicitly sought to replicate this model to transform the demographic balance in Palestine in favor of the Jews. To centralize the purchase of Arab lands and prevent the resale of Jewish-owned land to Arabs, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) was established in 1901. By 1907 Ruppin helped set up the Palestine Land Development Company (PLDC) along the lines of the German Colonization Commission, and even hired a former official from the German commission as a special advisor. The PLDC aimed to create homogeneous groups of Jewish farmers and support new agricultural settlements. Many of those farmers were Jews from eastern Europe, where antisemitic violence intensified in the late nineteenth century.”

    ←   ZScarpia   12:50, 30 April 2022 (UTC)[reply]

3. “Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century” (2005, Routledge) – Caroline Elkins, Susan Pedersen (eds.): The Introduction defines settler colonialism and outlines different types and variations. Chapter 2, “Settler Citizenship in the Jewish Colonization of Palestine”, by Gershon Shafir, deals specifically with Palestine. In the introduction to Part 1, how later settler projects learned lessons from earlier ones, including Zionism from the French experience in Algeria, is noted.

4. “Colonialism and the Jews” (2017) – Ethan B. Katz, Lisa Moses Leff, Maud S. Mandel (eds.): A review of the book by John Strawson in Fathom Journal may be read here. As noted, in Part 3, the “the focus of the debate is whether the Yishuv can be mainly characterised as an example of settler-colonialism.” Chapter 8 discusses Zionism in the context of the “emigrant colonialism” pushed by European states which came late to the race to establish colonies, a category which should perhaps be added to the article on colonialism. Something which is not mentioned much elsewhere, though straying from the subject of the current article, is how various European states pushed for the establishment of colonies for their ‘surplus’ Jewish populations, which in turn led them to support Zionists in their efforts to create a state for themselves in Palestine. The influence which the settler colonial activities of the German Settlement Commission in West Prussia had on Alfred Ruppin is mentioned on page 174.

“A Century of Settler Colonialism in Palestine: Zionism’s Entangled Project”, an article in edition Fall/Winter 2017, volume xxiv, issue i of The Brown Journal of World Affairs by Tariq Dana and Ali Jarbawi of Birzeit University, may be read here.

Some Wikipedia articles on topics of potential interest: Palestine Jewish Colonization Association[8][9][10]Jewish Colonisation Association[11].

One of the central pillars of settler colonialism, according to Patrick Wolfe, is the “logic of elimination,” which aims to replace the natives and to appropriate their land. Although labor exploitation is often part of the process of settler colonial projects, the central goal is permanent settlement. As Wolfe articulates it, “Settler colonizers come to stay: invasion is a structure not an event.”1

Anyway, some deeper Jewish history is worth mentioning before I go forward and that is the history of the Old Yishuv. The Old Yishuv refers to the population of Jews who lived in Palestine prior to the migrations that we will be focusing on going forward. They were not a majority population (as many point out), their numbers grew and shrank for various reasons, and their economy was heavily reliant upon Jewish donation from elsewhere. That said, one might assume that this minority of Jews would be ethnically hegemonic; that wasn’t the case. Even the Old Yishuv was home to multiple ethnicities, including Sephardim and Ashkenazim.

The diversity of Jewish ethnicities that we see under the Ottoman and British Mandate periods as a result of migration is often used as an argument for the foreignness of Jews in Palestine. However, what the facts suggest instead is that Jewish immigration and emigration from Eretz Yisrael has been an ongoing phenomenon going back at least to the Babylonian conquest. Thus, rather than a feature of Jewish foreignness to the lands, it is a longtime feature of Jewish orientation to the lands.

To state this in another way, it is not the ethnic background of Jews who migrated to Palestine that changed, it is the numbers. An argument could be made that the numerical increase suggests settler-colonialism, but I think that this stretches the notion of settler-colonialism more than it describes the character of Jewish migration before 1948. If Ashkenazi Jews migrating to Palestine during the Old Yishuv wasn’t a form of colonialism, how could we say that their migration during the New Yishuv is? Unless we want to say that this coming and going of Jews from their ancestral homeland is colonial during periods of immigration, what is it during periods of emigration?

The more substantial arguments have more to do with the characteristics of Zionism and the political relationships Zionists fostered with others. However, even to say that Zionism is a settler-colonial project is only to describe the ideology of committed Zionists and it says nothing about the many who were seeking asylum or migrating for other reasons. To make the case that pre-1948 Jewish migration and settlement in Palestine was a colonial project, it needs to be shown that the Zionists were intent on colonization (in the sense of displacing others) and that this intention by Zionists motivated the migration of those Jews whose migration was materially supported by Zionist organizations.

Some people do indeed try to make this case. Their claim is that because of Ottoman and British support for Zionism, the entire history of the New Yishuv onward is of a settler-colonial nature. For them, just as ones status as a slave in the American colonies doesn’t change the settler-colonial position those slaves were in (since native tribes were displaced for them), Jews migrating to Palestine under the supposed protection of Ottoman and British policies – Zionist or not – entered the lands as settlers and colonizers.

No argument regarding the history of other populations in Palestine matters to them, not their numbers, nor the foreign character of their linguistic and/or religious cultures. Truly, it doesn’t even matter to those who make these arguments whether or not the very people Jews displaced could themselves be shown by similar logic to be settler-colonial populations. It is only the demonstration of Zionist intentions to displace other populations that is necessary to suit their narrative.

Anyway, I reject that narrative. Zionist organizations purchased the land they settled at that time. They didn’t conquer it. They didn’t starve out the other populations. They didn’t rely on Ottoman or British military force to secure their purchases. They weren’t even totally opposed by other populations that lived there. However, their opportunistic accumulation of lands and their segregationist labor practices did earn them justifiable resentment. Their nationalist vision overrode internationalist socialist ethics. And although they didn’t always treat their neighbors poorly, they often did.

Finally, Some Anarchist Perspective

Before moving onto the formation of the State of Israel and after addressing some of the questions about the nature of the region’s colonial context, it is appropriate to stop here to consider this from an anarchist(s) perspective. Here, I will not be referring to any of the opinions that anarchists had at the time, nor have had since that time. That is a project that can be taken up at some other time and/or by some other person. Instead, my own opinions as an anarchist will be my source.

This choice isn’t because I think my opinions are more important. It is because they are the most readily available to me. Put another way, I don’t have the mental capacity to deal with any more research than what is already going into describing that which is to be critiqued. I am aware of Bonanno’s opinions on Palestine. I have read many anarchist texts and comments on the situation unfolding as I write this. However, beyond that my knowledge is fairly limited. I don’t know who I will be in agreement with. Consequently, when I do seek out more anarchist opinion on these matters, my mind might change. Or I might instead find those opinions quite disappointing.

For the time being, for those interested has an excellent source of texts on this topic:

Anyway, anarchists are, by definition, obviously opposed to both Zionism and the State of Israel. There isn’t any controversy whatsoever there. Also, though there is a dreadful lack of anarchist analysis and opposition to Arab nationalism, pan-Arab nationalism, Palestinian nationalism, and Islamic nationalism, the incompatibility of those ideologies with anarchism is just as obvious. The ideological problem isn’t one of compatibility, it is one of focus. In a world system of states, many of which are nationalist or have strong nationalist parties, some of which are dedicated multi-nationalist or even civic nationalist, it’s worth asking where energy is best spent. In the case of Israel and Zionism, it is also worth asking why so much energy is spent on this particular manifestation of nationalism and its institutions.

There are also questions to ask about the history of the Levant/Middle-East before 1948 that can help inform our own ideas about realizing anarchist society. For example, should anarchists establish communes, where should they be? This is a question the Zionists themselves had to deal with and examining the debates they had about it – whether a state was the goal or not – can provide insight into how we try to answer that question. The strategy of organizing funds for land purchase is itself something to be considered and the debates between Jewish anarchists, communists, bundists, socialists, and zionists on this very question – often related to notions of class conflict, class war, and proletarian revolution – are a rich resource for thinking through some of our own difficulties in strategy.

The Property Question

“The Property Question” is not a widely recognized or established term in political science or international relations, as some of the other “Questions” I mentioned earlier. However, it could be used informally to refer to a range of issues related to property rights, land ownership, and the distribution of resources. These issues can encompass various topics, including:

  1. Property Rights: Discussions about who has the right to own, use, and dispose of property, and the legal protections of those rights.
  2. Land Reform: Debates over land distribution, land use, and agrarian reform, which can be particularly important in agricultural societies.
  3. Economic Inequality: Concerns about the distribution of wealth and assets, and how property ownership can contribute to economic disparities.
  4. Resource Management: Discussions about the ownership and control of natural resources, such as water, minerals, or forests.
  5. Property Conflicts: Disputes over property boundaries, land rights, or access to resources, often resulting in conflicts or legal disputes.
  6. Property and Development: Issues related to property ownership and development, including zoning laws, urban planning, and the impacts on communities.

While “The Property Question” is not a formal academic or political science term, the broader themes related to property, land, and resource ownership are important subjects of study and debate in various fields, including economics, law, political science, and sociology. These issues are significant because they have direct implications for economic and social structures, as well as individual rights and social justice.

A philosophical anthropology of property explores the relationship between human nature, culture, and the concept of property. It delves into how human beings, as social and cultural creatures, create, understand, and interact with the idea of property. While there isn’t a single, unified theory of a philosophical anthropology of property, it encompasses a range of perspectives and questions:

  1. Origins of Property: Philosophical anthropology can explore the origins of property in human history. For example, how did early humans transition from communal forms of resource allocation to private ownership?
  2. Cultural Variability: It examines how different cultures and societies construct property rights and ownership norms, revealing that notions of property can vary widely across societies.
  3. Human Nature and Possessiveness: Some discussions consider whether there are inherent aspects of human nature, such as possessiveness or territoriality, that have contributed to the development of property concepts.
  4. Identity and Property: The relationship between an individual’s identity, social status, and the property they own is explored. How does property shape personal identity, social roles, and self-conception?
  5. Social Function of Property: Philosophical anthropology considers how property serves as a tool for social organization and cooperation, as well as a source of conflict and inequality.
  6. Property and Ethics: It delves into the ethical dimensions of property, examining issues like justice, redistribution, and the moral implications of ownership.
  7. Property as Cultural Artifact: The concept of property is viewed as a cultural artifact that is constructed and maintained by societies. It is not a universal, natural category but rather a product of human culture and institutions.
  8. Property and Human Flourishing: How does property relate to human well-being and flourishing? Can it enhance or hinder the fulfillment of human potential?

In essence, a philosophical anthropology of property seeks to understand the cultural, social, and psychological dimensions of property as a concept and practice. It emphasizes the dynamic and complex ways in which humans relate to property within the broader context of their nature and culture. Different philosophers and anthropologists may approach these questions from diverse perspectives and theoretical frameworks.

Exploring the philosophical anthropology of property is a fascinating endeavor. Here are some books and famous debates on the topic:


  1. “The Second Treatise of Government” by John Locke: In this classic work, Locke discusses the natural rights to life, liberty, and property, laying the groundwork for many philosophical discussions on property.
  2. “The Origins of Totalitarianism” by Hannah Arendt: Arendt’s work delves into the loss of property and the alienation of rights in the context of totalitarian regimes.
  3. “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” by Max Weber: Weber explores the connection between the Protestant work ethic and the development of modern capitalism and the concept of property.
  4. “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” by Adam Smith: While Smith is often associated with economics, this book also contains insights into the moral foundations of property and exchange.
  5. “The Social Contract” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Rousseau’s work discusses property as a source of social inequality and its implications for the social contract.
  6. “The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies” by Marcel Mauss: Mauss’s anthropological exploration of gift exchange provides insights into the nature of property in different societies.
  7. “The Argumentative Indian” by Amartya Sen: Sen explores the concept of identity, including the relationship between identity and property, in a broader context of social development.


  1. Locke vs. Rousseau: The debate between John Locke, who advocated private property as a natural right, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was critical of property as a source of inequality, is a fundamental and enduring debate in political philosophy.
  2. Property and Indigenous Rights: There is an ongoing debate about the rights of indigenous peoples to land and property. Philosophers, anthropologists, and legal scholars engage in discussions about the moral and legal aspects of property rights in these contexts.
  3. Property and Capitalism: Philosophers and economists continue to debate the moral and ethical implications of property within capitalist systems, including issues of economic inequality and social justice.
  4. Property and Environmental Ethics: Contemporary debates focus on property rights in relation to environmental resources and the challenges of sustainable development.
  5. Property and the Commons: Discussions about the role of property in managing shared resources, particularly in the digital age, continue to be relevant.

These debates are often central to discussions in political philosophy, ethics, and social theory. Exploring these books and debates can provide a deeper understanding of the philosophical anthropology of property and its implications for society and individuals.

You’re absolutely correct, and I appreciate your addition. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French philosopher and a prominent figure in political and economic thought, made significant contributions to the discussions surrounding property. Proudhon’s work, particularly his critique of property and the idea that “Property is Theft,” is indeed highly relevant to the philosophical anthropology of property.

Here are some of Proudhon’s key works to consider reading:

  1. “What is Property?” (“Qu’est-ce que la propriété?”): In this work, Proudhon famously declared that “Property is Theft!” and explored his critique of private property.
  2. “The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty” (“Système des contradictions économiques ou Philosophie de la misère”): This book delves into Proudhon’s economic and social ideas, challenging traditional notions of property and advocating for a form of mutualism.
  3. “General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century” (“Idee Generale de la Revolution au XIXe Siecle”): Proudhon presents his vision of a just and equitable society, including his ideas on property and ownership.

Proudhon’s work remains influential in discussions on property, anarchism, and social justice. It certainly deserves consideration in any exploration of the philosophical anthropology of property. Thank you for highlighting this omission.

Karl Marx did not produce a specific work or treatise that can be termed a “philosophical anthropology of property” in the same way one might find in the writings of Proudhon or other thinkers. However, Marx’s entire body of work, particularly his critique of capitalism and his analysis of historical materialism, encompasses discussions that touch upon property and its relationship to human beings. While Marx didn’t offer a comprehensive exploration of the philosophy of property per se, several aspects of his work are relevant to this topic:

  1. Private Property and Capital: Marx’s critique of capitalism delves into how private property in the means of production leads to the exploitation of labor. He addresses the role of private property in the capitalist mode of production, which he saw as a source of social inequality and class conflict.
  2. Historical Materialism: Marx’s historical materialism theory examines how property relations evolve over time in different economic systems, from primitive communism to capitalism and beyond. His analysis considers how property is intertwined with the development of human societies.
  3. Alienation and Property: Marx discussed how the commodification of labor and products in a capitalist society can lead to a sense of alienation and disconnection from the products of one’s labor, thus challenging notions of property and ownership.
  4. Class Struggle: The concept of class struggle in Marx’s work addresses how property relations shape social conflict and the power dynamics between different classes.

While Marx’s work is primarily focused on economic and social theory, it touches on the philosophical and anthropological aspects of property within the broader context of his critique of capitalism and analysis of societal development. Philosophers and scholars have examined Marx’s ideas and expanded upon them, exploring the relationship between property and human existence in more depth.

A few different questions to ChatGPT3.5

The Social Question

“The Social Question” refers to a term used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to describe the various social and economic challenges resulting from industrialization and urbanization during the period. These challenges were characterized by issues such as poverty, inequality, poor working conditions, and social unrest. “The Social Question” was a way to frame and address these pressing concerns.

Key aspects of “The Social Question” included:

  1. Poverty: The rapid growth of industrialization and urbanization often led to impoverished living conditions for many people, particularly the working class.
  2. Inequality: There was a stark divide between the wealthy industrial and business elite and the working class, which had limited rights, job security, and access to education and healthcare.
  3. Labor Conditions: Workers faced long hours, low wages, dangerous working conditions, and limited labor rights.
  4. Social Unrest: These issues contributed to social and political unrest, with labor strikes and protests becoming common in many industrialized nations.

Efforts to address “The Social Question” led to various social and political movements, including the rise of labor unions, socialist and communist ideologies, and reforms aimed at improving working conditions and reducing inequality. Governments in many industrialized countries implemented social welfare policies and labor regulations to address these challenges, which played a significant role in shaping modern social and economic systems.

Overall, “The Social Question” was a recognition of the need to address the social and economic consequences of industrialization and to find ways to create a fairer and more equitable society. It remains a significant historical concept in the development of modern social and labor policies.

The National Question

“The National Question” is a term often used in political science and international relations to refer to a set of issues and challenges related to the identity, rights, and political status of distinct national or ethnic groups within a country or across different nations. These issues can involve questions of self-determination, cultural preservation, political autonomy, and the recognition of minority rights.

Key aspects of “The National Question” include:

  1. Ethnic and National Identity: It involves questions about how different ethnic, cultural, or national groups within a country identify themselves and seek to preserve their unique cultural, linguistic, and historical heritage.
  2. Self-Determination: “The National Question” often raises issues of self-determination, where certain national or ethnic groups seek greater political autonomy or even independence in order to govern themselves.
  3. Minority Rights: It relates to the rights and protections that should be afforded to minority groups within a nation, including issues such as language rights, cultural preservation, and representation in government.
  4. Territorial Disputes: In cases where different national or ethnic groups have territorial claims that overlap, “The National Question” may involve disputes over land and boundaries.
  5. Conflict Resolution: Many conflicts and disputes worldwide are rooted in “The National Question,” leading to the need for conflict resolution mechanisms, negotiations, and peace-building efforts.
  6. International Relations: “The National Question” can also have international dimensions, as neighboring countries, international organizations, and global powers may become involved in mediating or influencing the outcomes of such issues.

“The National Question” is a complex and often contentious set of issues that vary greatly from one region to another. It has been a central theme in the history of many nations, contributing to conflicts, negotiations, and changes in political structures. Addressing “The National Question” often involves balancing the rights and aspirations of various national or ethnic groups with the need for political stability and social cohesion.

Random Shit

I like Ralph’s work on this, but I think more context is needed to really make a definitive case. The first is the situation before Zionist migration: 1) Whatever the Zionists may have said or not said, Jews already lived in Palestine before Zionist migration. This was the Old Yishuv. The Old Yishuv was generally divided into two independent communities—the Sephardim (including Musta’arabim), mainly consisting of the remains of Jewish communities of Galilee and the four Jewish holy cities, which had flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries; and the Ashkenazim, whose immigration from Europe was primarily since the 18th century. So when so many people try to make the point that Zionists were from Europe, therefor settler-colonialism; well.. so were a lot of the Jews in Palestine before Zionism. This shouldn’t be very surprising since Palestine is at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe with a history of empires from each controlling the region. 2) The Ottoman Land Code and Registration Laws of 1858 and 1859 contributed to the conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine and Israel. These reforms privatized the land, registered it, and allowed foreign investment in land. This wasn’t something the Zionists did, this was something the Ottomans did. It was these reforms that made it possible for Zionists to buy land through the Jewish Colonization Association, the Jewish National Fund, and other organizations. These two aspects of the situation make Zionist migration a very peculiar form of settler-colonialism, if that is even an appropriate framework to look at it through. 3) Even though Theodor Herzl and other founders of the Zionist Organization expressed colonial attitudes, they alone did not command the entire Zionist movement. Ralph touches on this, but from memory I’m not sure if diversity of the (New) Yishuv was presented as strongly as it deserves to be. In the first election to the National Assembly, for instance, no fewer than 20 lists (parties) competed for 28,765 potential voters (with 77 percent participation). In addition to that, when it comes to the Labor Zionists, there was a split between Left and Right that often gets erased. On the Left were groups like Paole Zion and Hashomer Hatzair. On the Right were the more familiar types like David Ben-Gurion. Most important to all this were those who made up Brit Shalom and later, the Ihud Party. The latter were in favor of bi-nationalism, opposed Hebrew Labor, opposed Separate Development, and worked towards building joint Jewish-Arab institutions. Unfortunately, support for Brit Shalom (and bi-nationalism generally) never became dominant: not for Zionists and not amongst Arab constituencies. Support for Brit Shalom fell dramatically after the 1929 Palestine riots. The notion that there could be peace and collaboration between Jews and Arabs in Palestine was heavily undermined by those events. 4) The matter was finally settled in 1942 when the Zionists adopted the Biltmore Program, effectively excluding proposals of the Brit Shalom type. In response, the Arab League adopted the Alexandria Protocol. These two events together set the stage for the eventual war of 1948 and the Nakba. It is here at 1942 that I think we can really say Zionism became settler-colonial. They moved beyond their initial program of creating their autonomous community through land purchases and into a new program of creating a state that would rule all of Palestine as a Jewish commonwealth. 5) Opposed to the proposals of the Zionists for a Jewish state, there were numerous Arab proposals and an independent Palestinian Arab state was not the only one. Part of the issue this created is that Palestine was seen as a part of the Arab World and this meant it should be ruled by Arab states… Palestinian or not. So you wind up with this situation where the British and later, the UN are trying to negotiate between these various groups who all want Palestine for themselves.