# 98 / Editorial

Lurianic Kabbalah – this 16th century creation of the Safed school, which was the source of the greatest earthquake in the Jewish world at the dawn of modernity: the appearance of the pseudo-messiah Sabbatai Tzvi, followed by his apostasy and conversion to Islam in 1666 – has not ceased to inspire the most radical thinking, both Jewish and non-Jewish. It constitutes a paradoxical Jewish legacy to European modernity, the effects of which are still felt in the 21st century. Thus, it has strangely reappeared in the recent period as an explicit source of one of the branches of the West European extreme left in struggle against capitalism. The concept of tikkun in particular, literally “reparation”, was used in a messianic as well as a revolutionary perspective. This Hebrew word even gave its name to a journal in France that preceded the creation of the “Comité invisible”, the collective author of the manifesto “L’insurrection qui vient” [i.e. The Coming Insurrection]. Hugo Latzer’s essay traces the genealogy of this singular appearance of the Jewish esoteric and gnostic tradition within this movement.

This particular case is re-examined as a general question of political philosophy in a long dialogue between Gérard Bensussan and Ivan Segré, the first part of which we are publishing this week. Avishag Zafrani asks them about the processes of secularization of elements of the Jewish tradition, prophetic or messianic, at work in revolutionary movements, and their participation in the ideas of emancipation and redemption of the world. In this dialogue on “The Uses of Jewish Tradition by the Revolutionary Left,” the two philosophers articulate the modern stakes of the theological-political, consider the link between Judaism and socialism, and comment in particular on the revolutionary texts and interpretations of Walter Benjamin.

“I was pleased to meet today with former leader of the Labour Party @jeremycorbyn and his colleagues at the @ProgIntl and the @corbyn_project. I look forward to working together to build international solidarity toward a future that works for all people.” This is the tweet that Democratic Party Senator Bernie Sanders posted on 19 January 2023. After posing alongside two leaders of France Insoumise in France during the last French parliamentary elections, Jeremy Corbyn continues his world tour of left-wing leaders, trying to erase his stubborn record of fighting anti-Semitism in his own party. If a gentle reminder was needed, K. is now republishing the synthesis of the Equality and Human Rights Commission‘s report on antisemitism in the British Labour Party that led to Corbyn’s eviction. “International solidarity” should include harassed Jewish activists in the Labour Party, forced to leave their political involvement because they were far from protected within Labour, even though Corbyn had the chutzpah to declare himself an ally in the fight against antisemitism in a 2019 tweet. To demonstrate his virtue, he then shared… an article by Bernie Sanders.



In the early 2000s, a radical left-wing magazine referred to the Kabbalah tradition and took a Hebrew name: Tiqqun. The magazine only had two issues, but it constituted the matrix of the Invisible Committee (collective author of The Coming Insurrection) of which Julien Coupat, arrested during the Tarnac affair, was a central figure. How did a virulent critique of liberal democracy and capitalism originate in a tradition of Jewish esotericism?

How can we understand the emergence of a political use of Jewish tradition within a certain radical left? Is this use paradoxical, ideologically overdetermined, or does it proceed from a real interest in certain religious sources, susceptible of reviving a revolutionary messianism? We put the question to philosophers Ivan Segré and Gérard Bensussan, who know both the Jewish tradition and that of the revolutionary left.

“It’s the same scene every time. I’m in a Parisian square and people ask me what language I speak with my children. My “Jewish face” throws them off the trail with two wrong answers: either it’s Yiddish or Hebrew. In either case, they don’t recognize my mother tongue, spoken by one in five Europeans.”

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Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.