Martin Buber, Paths in Utopia (1949).


Ephraim Fischoff

The eightieth birthday of Martin Buber on February 8, 1958, and his concomitant visit in this country for a series of lectures, have stimulated a series of publications on or about Buber and a reissue of some of his works. With this edition of his Paths in Utopia, the Beacon Press joins in the expression of homage to one of the universal men of our time, who is at once scholar and educator, seer and prophet.

Many are the sources of Martin Buber's fame, and the manifestations of his universality. The significant impact of his personality upon our generation is due to his many-faceted cultural achievements. These are both Judaistic and general, comprising both theoretical and applied studies in various humanistic and sociological areas as well as in religion. He is not only one of the foremost living philosophers of Judaism, possibly its most persuasive exponent in the world's parliament of religions, and a unique interpreter of Jewish folklore as developed in the Hasidic evangelical movement, but he is also a remarkable translator of the Bible into an incomparable poetic version. He is a distinctive social philosopher, and a significant exponent of religious socialism in the great tradition of Utopian social thought.

Throughout his religious and metaphysical labors the sociological interest -- of which this study in Utopian socialism is only one aspect -- looms large; and consequently his social philosophy is religious at its core. Influenced by the pioneer work of modern German sociology, Ferdinand Toennies' Community and Society (Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, 1887), Buber became one of the professorial socialists of the German tradition; and from other thought currents of the fin de siecle in his own country and in general European thought, Buber imbibed a deep concern with the restoration of true community. But Buber's professorial socialism differed from that of the other Kathedersozialisten, even from that of the aforementioned Toen-nies, in that he was consistently a doughty protagonist of social meliorism only if it retained a strongly religious basis; i.e., only if it quested for a regenerated man in a restructured society.

Buber's espousal of Utopian socialism was the result of several interacting factors, some distinctively Jewish and some reflecting distinctive aspects of twentieth-century Occidental culture, particularly in Germany. The former comprised his interpretation of prophetic Judaism as achieved and manifested anew in the Jewish evangelical movement known as Hasidism; and his particular understanding of and activities on behalf of Zionism, construed as a movement of ethnic or national regeneration. Some of the factors deriving from the general culture included his study of Toennies' Community and Society, with its profound criticisms of developed capitalist society, which influenced all of German sociology. There were also various currents of thought and organizations among German intellectuals, professors and clergy, designed to combat the inequities of capitalism and to recreate a true community -- a trend and yearning reflected in the literature and youth movement of the day.

Professor Buber became intimately acquainted with one type of cooperative living -- that of the Kvutza -- the communitarian colony of the Jewish colonists in Israel. As a refugee from Nazi Germany in 1938, he settled in Israel where he became professor of social philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and had occasion to study the Kvutza, its ideology, and its place in the whole stream of Utopian thinking. His analysis of the history of Utopian thought and his observations on the operation of the Kvutza strengthened his belief that this particular manifestation of Utopian socialist thought had not failed as a great historical experiment in restructuring society, although admittedly much remained to be accomplished before the experiment could be accounted a success, and many perils and impediments lurked in the time ahead. Nevertheless, Buber's knowledge of this "experiment that did not fail" was what stimulated him to write Paths in Utopia.

Buber's researches into the lore and history of Hasidism had provided him with an ideal type of a truly humane community, and his immersion in Biblical doctrine had given him unusual preparation for understanding the nature of messianism, as a permanent quest of man for a better world order based on spiritual perspectives. It will be recalled that Buber started as an interpreter of the foundations of Hasidism, the seminal ideas of which -- and in a larger sense of all authentic Judaism -- he considered to be unity, conduct, and the future. His whole subsequent evolution as a religious existentialist philosopher, his system of "dialogical life," his interpretation of social issues and his contributions to education, psychotherapy, and social philosophy, all flowed out of this primary orientation to the cardinal spiritual tenets of central prophetic Judaism as he interpreted it.

In the two years before World War I Buber had devoted himself to the consideration of various theoretical and practical problems -- at the center of which stood the problem of regenerating man's spirit and redirecting human history -- which he construed as being fundamentally a problem of education. A major factor in Buber's preoccupation with social thought was his continuing concern with Zionism which antedated the turn of the century.

Increasingly concerned with the deeper significance of Zionism as a creative philosophy for the modern Jew, which might accomplish the fortification of group loyalty as well as the deepening and intensification of humanity, Buber saw ever more clearly the need of educational effort. If the profound values of community were to be transmitted, they would first have to be reawakened in the new generation.

In 1913 Buber together with Erich Kahler and Arthur Salz summoned a conference in Berlin designed to plan the establishment of a Jewish college in Germany, to inaugurate the education of the coming generation in the sense of a true and vital Judaism, which hopefully would exert an influence beyond Jewish circles in advancing a general cultural and religious renewal. In this quest Buber was in rapport with basic trends of the time, for as Ernst Troeltsch remarked in Der Historismus und seine Ueberwindung: "On all sides there was a demand for more rooted-ness and community." In 1914 Buber met in Potsdam with such figures as Gustav Landauer, Florence Christian Rang, Theodor Daeubler and other significant figures in European life to form a strong cultural influence in behalf of international unity. Romain Rolland and Walter Rathenau were also interested in the progress of the group. But the outbreak of World War I put the quietus to this effort.

Buber was an earnest student of basic works in modern social thought by such thinkers as Wilhelm Dilthey, Georg Simmel and Max Weber. He projected and edited an interesting series of forty popular monographs on sociological and psychological topics, under the general title "Society" (Die Gesellschaft), opening with a work on the proletariat by Werner Sombart and including a piece on religion by Georg Simmel and one on revolution by Gustav Landauer. The latter, a notable German socialist and man of letters, who occupied an important position in the first socialist government of German, exerted a profound influence on Buber's religious socialism and after the assassination of his beloved friend, Buber wrote a memorial essay about him and issued some of his unpublished works.

Essentially, the present volume is concerned with the repristination of the word "utopia," which, in the interpretation of Buber has been victimized in the course of the political struggle of Marxism against other forms of socialism and movements of social reform. In his struggle to achieve dominance for his idiosyncratic system of socialism, Marx employed "utopia" as the ultimate term of pejoration to damn all "prehistoric" (i.e. pre-Marxian) social systems as unscientific and futilitarian, in contrast to the allegedly scientific and inevitable character of his system of historical materialism. As Marxian socialism scored its massive victories, Utopian socialism or utopianism appeared thoroughly discredited and doomed to the museum of intellectual aberrations. The signal victory of the proletariat in the titanic revolutionary struggle in Russia, culminating in the domination of the Bolsheviks, would, it was felt, demonstrate finally the utter validity of Marxian socialism. But the numerous failures of the Soviet Union to achieve true socialism in the decades that have passed and the diverse poignant frustrations and disillusionments with the "God that failed" have re-awakened an interest in Utopian socialism, and have led not a few to feel, as Buber expresses it, that Utopian and not Marxist socialism "may well be clearing the way for the structure of the coming society." Recent years have seen a spate of books concerned with a reconsideration of Utopian thought, from Lewis Mumford's The Story of Utopias (1922) and J. O. Hertzler's History of Utopian Thought (1926) to Karl Mannheim's Ideology and Utopia (trans., 1936), Harry Ross' Utopias Old and New (1938), Marie Louise Berneri's Journey Through Utopia (1950), Raymond Ruyer's L'Utopie et les Utopies (1950), Glenn Negley and J. Max Patrick's The Quest for Utopia (1952), and Henrik F. Infield's Utopia and Experiment -- Essays in the Sociology of Cooperation (1958). Yet another expression of the same interest is David Riesman's essay on community planning and industrial society ("Some Observations on Community Plans and Utopia," Yale Law Journal, December 1947, pp. I73ff.), which starts with a declaration that "a revival of the tradition of Utopian thinking seems to me one of the important intellectual tasks of today." Riesman's analysis is based on a study of community in modern technological society from the perspective of a progressive architect willing to envisage "Utopian" changes in the quest for a genuine community life which would overcome the fateful separation of production from consumption that is construed as the primary cause of alienation in the life of modern man. (Percival and Paul Goodman, Communitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life, 1947). In addition there have been numerous studies of various contemporary experiments in cooperative or communitarian living such as the studies of the Kibbutz in Israel by Henrik Infield.

This volume purports to provide a re-examination of the Utopian ideal -- and the permanent value of this aspiration in the life of mankind. In its endeavor to rescue a word from oblivion and to restore it to proper esteem in the mind of mankind, the work provides an essay in semantics. Buber has the conviction that socialism has become lost in a blind alley from which it can be rescued partly by a re-evaluation of the true significance of the maligned term "utopian." But what sets this work apart from other histories of the Utopian thought or quest is Buber's total religious philosophy. Here is a social theorist living in the post-Stalin and post-Hitler era who, despite his experiences of the horrors of World War II, retains his faith in man's need and capacity for regeneration and his inalienable quest for a synthesis of religion and socialism. Buber provides a survey of the development of Utopian thought, covering such figures as Fourier, Saint-Simon, Owen and Proudhon. From these Buber proceeds to an evaluation of the achievement of Marx, stressing the continuing Utopian element in the latter's thought, despite his derisive rejection of utopianism.

Buber demonstrates the relationships of Marx and Engels to those early formulators of the socialist ideal of the universal transformation of society. By virtue of the criticism by Marx and Engels the term "utopian" came to denote social thinkers who had not taken account of modern industrial development, the class struggle and the unique function of the proletariat therein. Thereafter Utopian socialism became the "dirty word" of social thought and a synonym for delusion, obscurantism, or ideological obfuscation -- a completely negligible factor in the period of modern economic evolution. This arrogant dismissal of Utopian thinkers, both "prehistoric" and post-Marxian, was effected despite the admission by Engels that German socialist theory would never forget the illustrious labors of the pre-Marxist romantic social philosophers.

An examination of the thought of Lenin follows, culminating in an analysis of the failure of the socialist ideal in communism. This is followed by one of the most interesting chapters, "An Experiment That Did Not Fail," in which Buber analyzes the communitarian movement of the Zionist Kibbutz, of which he was one of the ideological godfathers, and argues that this venture in socialism did not founder precisely because it has remained dedicated to the ideal of the emergence of a new community.

Buber also carried into his understanding of sociology the same perspectives he applied to Marxism. He interpreted sociology (founded, in his judgment, by Saint-Simon) as a critical science, designed to overcome the crises of the age; and he saw both Auguste Comte and Lorenz von Stein as dedicated to the conquest of the inner contradictions of the age through adequate knowledge of social conditions.

Even after Comte had departed from the doctrine of his teacher, Saint-Simon, he still characterized Saint-Simon's social program with a formula that accurately described his own intellectual project: une regeneration sociale fondee sur une renovation mentale. He emphasized that all schemes for social reorganization based on the profound moral and political anarchy of the time required a prior spiritual reorganization of society, the creation of a new spiritual attitude to prevent the deterioration and corruption of institutions. In one of Buber's essays, "The Demand of the Spirit and Historical Reality," he adverts to the insights of Siegfried Landshut, who interprets modern sociology, in his Kritik der Soziologie, as an expression of the criticism or critique of historico-social reality. But while Buber admits the partial truth of the need for this assertion, he stresses the necessity of continuing to work for the transformation of the spirit, without which any alteration of institutions is doomed to failure. It is inevitable that man must transform himself to the same degree that he changes his institutions, lest, as Buber puts it, the new house man hopes to erect become his burial chamber. In addition to putting sociological data to political use, there must be a concern with the education of men in the process of living together.

Buber's entire sociology is of a piece with his philosophy and theology in placing central stress on the concept of the community (Gemeinschaft). For him this was not an ideal type or conceptual construction as in some of the systems of German sociology like those of Toennies or Max Weber. It was an empirical type of society with certain marked features -- notably a serious and constant concern with the relationship of the divine in the manifestations of routine living. The establishment of such a social organization was in profound consonance with the doctrine of Judaism that the ideal is always the outflowing of real, natural urges and drives, and the ideal service of God is the establishment of the truly human community. For man's commitment to God must be manifested not in solemn ritual and world-rejecting meditation but in daily living. The Judaistic doctrine of unification permits of no dualism as between the ethics of the individual and the state, or between the life of religion and life in the world.

Apparently credit must go to Ferdinand Toennies, the founder of German sociology, for making the fundamental distinction between community which deriving from communio signifies an organic, deep seated, emotionally pervasive and hence genuine form of living together, as opposed to society or association which is more mechanical, temporary, purposive, and hence artificial or ephemeral. Indeed, Toennies speaks as though a Gemeinschaft was itself an organism when contrasted with the artificial character of society.

From this doctrine of Gemeinschaft both Landauer and Buber developed their philosophy of the community -- as the highest form of human symbiosis. This philosophy of community was influenced by but was also in part a protest against Marxism.

Buber construes the essence of community as being identical with the Bund and not, as in Toennies' view, with the natural community of the family or village -- a free association of individuals who find one another in direct relationship, or an elective community of those who cluster about a religious center. He espouses the rebirth of the commune or the cooperative but he does not undertake to solve the technical questions as to the degree of economic or political autonomy to be permitted these cooperatives or communes, nor in general to lay down general principles as to the relation between centralization and decentralization. This massive problem, Buber avers, must be approached, like everything having to do with the relationship between idea and reality, only with great spiritual tact, with a constant and tireless weighing and measuring of the right proportion between them. He insists, however, that the community process and attitude must determine the relations of the communes with each other, for only "a community of communities merits the title of Commonwealth."

In its positive conclusion, then, this work is a plea for a renewal and deepening of the Cooperative movement,1 with its drive toward the structural renewal of society, the re-establishment of inward social relationships within it, and the emergence of new congeries of communitarian states (consociatio consociationum). This trend, far from being romantic or Utopian, is, rather, constructive to the highest degree. What is necessary is not merely cooperative organization of production or consumption, but the comprehensive integral "full cooperative," the most potent manifestation of which is the village commune, "where communal living is based on the amalgamation of production and consumption, production being understood not exclusively as agriculture alone, but as the organic union of agriculture with industry and handicrafts." It may be helpful to recall that Buber had affiliations, both personal and ideological, with the religious-socialist movement in Germany -- a variegated manifestation of concern with the social gospel which after World War I culminated in an outright effort at a synthesis of religion and socialism. Under the impact of modern social problems, religion, particularly Protestant Christianity, endeavored to find satisfactory solutions for the many aspects of social disorganization induced by the rapid and unregulated development of capitalism. Thus the Protestant churches of Germany and Switzerland, particularly, developed a noteworthy social-religious trend, and both they and the Roman Church endeavored to find ways of reaching the proletariat, which had become increasingly alienated from the churches. One aspect of this trend led to the formation of the Christian Social Party, headed by the demogogic preacher Stoecker, while the Protestant churches developed a program which crystallized in the formation of the Evangelical Social Congress. There was also a more liberal religious group which had a different attitude toward socialism than the Protestant and Roman churches. For the Christian Social Party was conservative in both theology and in politics and in sharp opposition to the Social Democratic Party. On the other hand, the Evangelical Social Party had a liberal orientation both politically and theologically, and their rejection of socialism was by no means as emphatic as that of the Christian Socialists. But in the freer Social Religious Movement there was a positive attitude manifested toward the Social Democratic Party, especially in its radical attack upon the bourgeois social order. Finally, there was to emerge, after World War I, a Religious Socialist group.

The source of this freer German social gospel movement has been traced to the work of two distinguished German pietistic preachers, Johann Christoph Blumhardt and his son Christoph, whose influence later spread from Germany to Switzerland. Two other men also deserve credit for having developed a socially conscious religious perspective. One was Hermann Kutter (who died in 1931), who in a series of prophetic critiques of the church of his time expounded the view that God had willed to manifest Himself in the atheistic and materialistic Social Democratic Party because it was doing the work which Christianity ought properly to have done. Never politically active nor a member of the Socialist Party, he was zealous for God and social justice, and he interpreted the socialistic movement as a sign of God's wrath against His own people, whom He had abandoned in order to shame the pious by consorting with the godless. The other great spokesman for the social religious movement in Switzerland was Leonhard Ragaz (who died in 1948), and who, unlike Kutter, had a very definite program of social reform for which he fought throughout his life. He also differed from Kutter in his unceasing effort to produce a synthesis of Christianity and socialism. He averred that he was a member of the Social Democratic Party because he saw in it something of the Kingdom of God and the adumbration of the Christian truth. In the socialist ideal he saw a new world of solidarity supplanting a world of brigandage, and a new hegemony of the spirit in place of the dominion of matter; man was to be in the ascendant rather than mammon; service rather than power.

The culmination of this synthesis was a religious socialism of which Ragaz may properly be regarded as the founder. Under his influence there was already in existence in Switzerland prior to World War I a society of Social Democratic ministers who led groups of Social Democratic churchmen, and the religious socialism spread to Germany after World War I. One of its manifestations was the endeavor to bring together the working class and the church by affirmation of socialism on the part of Christian leaders. There was a small group of intellectuals who gathered around men like Paul Tillich, Karl Mennicke and Eduard Heimann, whose main concern was to deepen the religious level of socialism for the purpose of enabling it, once it had achieved this deeper level of understanding, to produce or generate the desiderated "theonomous era," as Tillich termed it. Indeed, the latter continued to be one of the leading spirits in the religious socialist movement and perhaps its most sophisticated ideologist, writing widely on the subject and contributing to the authoritative German encyclopedia of religion, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, the significant article on religious socialism. He interpreted this movement not as the religious absolutization of the socialist movement, but, rather, as a protest against the absolutization of the middle class and the contemporary social order; he also admitted that it constituted a recognition of the problems inescapably brought to the attention of modern man by sociology. The social and ethical ideal of religious socialism, he declared, is the achievement of a meaningful and thoroughly reasonable society in which the concrete potentiality of other human beings comes to recognition or, what amounts to the same, in which true community arises. Religious socialism was for Tillich the quest for a new social and cultural existence filled with transcendant content (theonomy).

The situation was quite different in the various societies of "religious socialists" that arose in Germany after 1919. Most of these groups were led by ministers and had the double purpose of combatting the dominant atheism in the Social Democratic Party in favor of a more sympathetic attitude toward Christianity and of creating in the church a positive understanding of socialism. Of course the religious socialists were not Marxists, though no one can doubt their socialism. But it was of the "utopian" variety which Marx had so scornfully dismissed in his Communist Manifesto. In January, 1919, there came into being in Berlin a "Society of Socialistic Friends of the Church" which a year later took the name of "Society of Religious Socialists." This had many sections in Berlin and local groups in such cities as Cologne, Stettin, Breslau and Koenigsberg, but at the height of its popularity it had not many more than two thousand members. There were other comparable groups independent of the Berlin society, as for example in Baden. In 1924 the various societies joined forces and in 1926 took the name "Society of Religious Socialists of Germany." They began to issue a significant journal, Zeitschrift für Religion und Sozialismus, edited by Professor Georg Wuensch of Marburg. The movement was of course terminated immediately after the victory of the Nationalist Socialist Party.

If one inquires as to the influence of this movement of religious socialism, one is bound to say that it was not very effective. The Social Democratic Party tolerated it but scarcely advanced it, and the working class was very little touched by it. On the other hand the religious socialist group was suspect to the churches and the organizations connected with them, and it failed in its desired aim of inducing a more friendly judgment of socialism among church people. It would appear that religious socialism lacked the evangelical fervor which might have achieved noteworthy popular influence. The various constituent units manifested little of the pietistic quality of the Blumhardts, Kutter, or Ragaz. Most of the leaders belonged to the liberal theological wing and were rather close to the very free religious groups, having but little understanding of the nature and function of the church. As it turned out, their criticism of the church was very sharp, while their judgment of the failings of the socialist movement was rather muted. Their endeavor to achieve a synthesis between socialism and Christianity frequently led them to equate socialist slogans with Christian ones, thus identifying the classless society with the Kingdom of God and the class struggle with the Holy War. There was the ever-present danger that the religious content might become completely secularized.

But for all the criticisms that were leveled at the religious socialist movement on the part of the churches, there can be no doubt that it contributed much to freeing the church from its excessively close connection with the bourgeoisie and nationalism. In this respect the achievements of Kutter and Ragaz had a permanent value.

After World War II the religious socialist movement arose anew on a small scale. Once again there is a society of German religious socialists with a central office in Frankfurt, and the organization issues a periodical entitled Christ und Sozialist. Apparently the present society is much closer to the church than the previous ones, and its leaders obviously have a stronger theological foundation and background. Nor is there as strong a polemic against the church as in the earlier decade. Rather there appears to be a genuine effort to achieve a clearer understanding between the church and the working class through the dialogue between these two great forces.

Sombre indeed is Buber's appraisal of the present situation, yet he is hopeful. He sees great forces arrayed against one another, yet he is confident of a messianic amelioration. One of the nineteenth-century mappers of a path to Utopia was Moses Hess, for whom Buber had a high regard. In one of his works, Rome and Jerusalem, Hess assigned a unique function to Israel in the modern world. Following this example, Buber sets up a contrast at this moment of history between Moscow and Jerusalem:

So long as Russia has not undergone an essential inner change -- and today we have no means of knowing when and how that will come to pass -- we must designate one of the two poles of Socialism between which our choice lies, by the formidable name of "Moscow." The other, I would make bold to call "Jerusalem."

Indeed, the words in which Buber characterizes Hess (Israel and Palestine, pp. 112f.) apply equally to his own views:

Much as he recognizes the importance of social conditions for the development of social ideas, he nevertheless considers it essential that socialism should be based not on the economic and technical stage of development alone but also on that of the spirit. For him social freedom is either a result of spiritual freedom, or it is without foundation and turns over into its opposite; he sees the heart of the social movements of our time proceeding "not from the needs of the stomach but from the needs of the heart" and from "ideas."

He does not retreat from the insight into the importance of material conditions for the development of social ends, but goes beyond it. And in two ways. On the one hand he is concerned to fit socialism into a wider supra-social cosmic content -- and not into a materialistically grounded context but following on from Spinoza . . . into harmonious conformity to a law which manifests itself in different spheres, the cosmic, the organic, the practical and the social, without any possibility of deriving one from the other.

In speaking of the saintly Rabbi Kook (Israel and Palestine, p. 148), Buber again employs language descriptive of his own stand:

Fundamentally he is not concerned so much with the continuation of the existing holiness as with a true renewal. And for him holiness means not a sphere above life, but the renewal of life and unity and the transfiguration of this wholeness and unity.

What is the reaction of a social scientist to Buber's noble ideological analysis of utopianism?

From the viewpoint of social science, Henrik Infield, an empirical observer of communitarian experiments and one who has also been stimulated by the Kvutza (cf. his Cooperative Living in Palestine, 1948), expresses a certain discontent with the philosophical rehabilitation of Utopia. Agreeing that a reassessment of Utopian thought is desirable, he questions the value of an ideological analysis in terms of absolutes, even though Marxism has been proved wrong, and argues that a return to Utopia is impossible. There may be other alternatives than Utopian socialism; e.g., single tax; and the criteria of the good society may well change. Actually he goes on to challenge the radical distinctions of the either/or variety postulated by Buber in regard to the difference between Utopian, and scientific socialism. For there are Utopian and apocalyptic traits in scientific socialism and the converse is also true, at least in part. Science and Utopia are not mutually exclusive propositions, so that despair of the former need not necessarily drive us to the latter. For the social scientist, Infield stresses, the reification of state and society and the absolutization of ideals are barriers to critical investigation of societal phenomena. Indeed, there is no reason to question Infield's concern with an experimental approach to social problems -- and his preoccupation with precise methods and techniques for investigation. Cooperative communities certainly are important socio-economic laboratories for our time; and it is to be hoped that the International Council for Research in the Sociology for Cooperation will undertake and support research in the sociological problems of all types of cooperatives, and that its International Library for the Sociology for Cooperation will publish these findings.

Infield's impatience with philosophical analysis of fundamental problems leads him to doubt the value of the term "Utopian" altogether, and he identifies it with a eulogistic term suggesting praise of a social deviation. For Buber this is to neglect the basic distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft types of society. Whatever the force of the impatient dismissal by empirical researchers of such fundamental conceptual inquiries as are contained in this work, we are enriched by this fresh exploration of the eternal problems of social philosophy and practice. We remain in the debt of Buber for proclaiming afresh to our generation the message of Leonhard Ragaz: "Any Socialism which sets limits to God and man is too narrow for me."

In a brief essay on "Three Theses of a Religious Socialism" which is introduced by the above quotation, Buber affirms anew his faith in messianic or prophetic socialism. In defining religious socialism he stresses that religion and socialism are dependent on one another, and that each of them needs the covenant with the other for the fulfillment and perfection of its own essence. "Religio, that is, the human person's binding of himself to God, can only attain its full reality in the will for a community of the human race, out of which alone God can prepare His kingdom."

Attachment to God and community among human beings belong together: "Religion without socialism is disembodied spirit, and hence not authentic spirit; socialism without religion is body emptied of spirit, hence also not genuine body.

"All 'socialist' tendencies, programs and parties are real or fictitious according to whether they serve as the strength, direction, and instruments of real socialitas -- of mankind's really becoming a fellowship -- or whether they only exist alongside its development, or even conceal the flight from real socialitas, which comprises men's immediate living with and for one another in the here and now."

Buber emphasizes that the point where religion and socialism can meet is in the "concrete personal life." He maintains that in both the stress is properly on the inward aspect. In religion this means that dogma and ritual are secondary to abiding in the profundity of a "real reciprocal relation with the mystery of God." Similarly the heart of socialism's truth is not any tenet or political strategy but an enduring orientation "in the abyss of concrete reciprocal relation with the mystery of man."

Buber holds that it is presumptuous to expect to accomplish socialism without living out a communitarian pattern. As in religion it is the management of the workaday world "that sanctifies or desecrates religious devotion," so in socialism there must be a constant concern with the means employed to secure its ends lest the goals be vitiated or impugned by the means. For in religious socialism the most serious attention is given to certain fundamental existential facts: "the fact that God is, that the world is, and that the concrete human person stands before God and in the world."


1 Buber's survey of the cooperative movement takes its place with the works of Gide, Infield, Mladenatz, Kropotkin, and Kaznelson.