We have no flag, and we need one. If we desire to lead many people, we must raise a symbol above their heads.
I conceive a white flag, with seven golden stars. The white field symbolizes our pure new life; the stars are the seven golden hours of our working-day. For the Jews shall march into the Promised Land carrying this sign of work.
[Wir haben keine Fahne. Wir brauchen eine. Wenn man viele Menschen führen will, muss man ein Symbol über ihre Häupter erheben. Ich denke mir eine weisse Fahne, mit sieben goldenen Sternen. Das weisse Feld bedeutet das neue, reine Leben; die Sterne sind die sieben goldenen Stunden unseres Arbeitstages. Denn im Zeichen der Arbeit gehen die Juden in das neue Land.] -Herzl The Jewish State [translation slightly modified]
I have quoted the passage above before (recall), but wish to reflect a bit more on it (after last week's post). One way to understand the details of Herzl's "pamphlet" is that it offers a chance for a new Exodus with a fresh start at the destination (Argentine or Palestine). I mention Exodus for a reason; the Jewish State is, in fact, most detailed on -- and seems primarily aimed to conceive -- the transition period between the period of exile and full blooded state sovereignty. (There is, in fact, quite a bit of attention to the manner of travel arrangements from Europe to the to be founded Jewish state.)
That is, the Jewish State and the Jewish state it conceives are meant to generate a new beginning; the intended population is meant to start out young:
Members of a new culture marry young. This will promote general morality and ensure sturdy offspring in the new generation; and thus we shall have no delicate offspring of late marriages, children of fathers who spent their strength in the struggle for life. [In neuen Culturen heiratet man früh. Das kann der allgemeinen Sittlichkeit nur zu Statten kommen, und wir erhalten kräftigen Nachwuchs; nicht jene schwachen Kinder spätverheirateter Väter, die zuerst ihre Energie im Lebenskampf abgenützt haben.]
This is Herzl's answer to the recurring (what I call the) transition problem, that is (recall), how to create a better political future with a population raised under bad institutions (or worse, that is, bad breeding). In the Hebrew Bible, the forty years of wandering through Sinai wilderness takes place "until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed."
The transition problem is very serious for Herzl because, while his genetic theory (he mentions Darwin approvingly) does not seem to involve a racial or ethnic hierarchy, he does think (in Lamarckian style) that the circumstances of life influence the (distribution of) sturdiness and other talents of and within a population. And he clearly thinks that within a population (i.e., the Jewish ) the distribution of talents is unequal and he places considerable faith in the rational capacity of scientific experts and financial elite to guide the people. The Lamarckian element in Herzl's thought is complemented with a kind of progressive, cultural-material stadial theory of civilizations that is more important in the overall scheme (he appeals to it when he rejects alternative, return to-agrarian-society-Zionist projects). The destination is a state with an advanced technology and economy in which elite leadership rules/guides aided by experts who provide a kind of social rationality and harmony (reflecting Herzl's (soft Hegelian) corporatism from above).
In this light, we can better understand the flag's focus on purity (reine Leben), which is a Jewish value with deep roots [טהורה (tehora) or טהור (tahor),] in The Hebrew Bible. It is notably absent in the discussion to create a politically Conservative Jewish vision recently debated in Mosaic (here). Undoubtedly, the new land will be uncontaminated by the vices of exile, subordination, anti-semitism in old Europe as well as institutional structures that channel the (unfree etc.) Jews into becoming socialists (these are "mediocre" minds). That is to say, by addressing the transition problem head on, Herzl provides a mechanism of purification. This mechanism is the Jewish Company (Herzl uses the English], which is a transition-generating-institute [Uebergangs-Institut]. This Corporation guides the transition and, thereby, secures "the purity of the idea and the strength of their execution" [Für die Reinheit der Idee und die Kraft ihrer Ausführung sind Bürgschaften nöthig]. Of course, this idea of purification presupposes that the given elements are not all rotten.
In his (repeated) emphasis on the productive and well-organized seven hour work day, Herzl echoes Thomas More's Utopia (where the Utopians work six, productive hours). Once purified, the Jews will be capable not merely of productive work, but great works [grossen Unternehmungen (recall).] Exhibiting the connection between works and national greatness is, of course, one of the great themes of Spinoza's political philosophy, but that's for another time.