Aaron Liebermann: the father of Jewish socialism

Radical political change has been a formative factor in modern Jewish history, Jews often having been at the forefront of movements aimed at improving the living standards of ordinary people. Leon Trotsky (ne Bronstein) was not the first Jew to want to change the state of society, and Jews played a significant role in left-wing revolutionary politics from the middle of the nineteenth century. One such was Aaron Samuel Liebermann, generally viewed as a relatively minor figure in the history of the movement. In the 1870s, however, he played a notable role in left-wing politics. He was to some extent influenced by Moses Hess, the forerunner of modern Zionism and an early Jewish advocate of reform. Hess’s tomb? stone in Cologne (later moved to near the Sea of Galilee) was inscribed with the words ‘Father of German Social Democracy’.1 But Ber Borochov, the socialist Zionist leader and one of the

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