Jacob Talmon between Zionism and Cold War Liberalism


Journal Article

The paper focuses on the problematic relationship between Talmon's liberalism and Zionism. My argument is that Talmon's nationalism (Zionism included)-historicist, romantic, visionary-lived in permanent tension with his liberalism-empiricist, pluralist, pragmatic. His critique of totalitarian democracy, reflecting his British experience, emerged independently from his Zionism, grounded in Central European nationalism. The two represented different worlds. Talmon lived in both, serving as an ambassador in-between them, without ever bringing them together. The essay's first section describes the political education of the young Jacob Talmon (née Flajszer) and the making of The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy. It demonstrates the independence of Talmon's Cold War liberal project from his Zionism. The second section places Talmon in the context of Cold War liberal discourse, showing how integral his critique of revolutionary politics was to contemporary liberalism. The third illustrates the tensions between Talmon's view of Jewish history and his liberalism, between his Zionism and his critique of revolutionary politics. Focusing on Talmon's analyses of nationalism, it highlights the ambiguity of his Zionism. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hacohen, MH

Published Date

  • June 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 34 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 146 - 157

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0191-6599

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2007.12.011

Citation Source

  • Scopus