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Philanthropy vs. unproductive charity. The case of Baron Maurice de Hirsch / Filantropía no asistencialista. El caso del Barón Maurice de Hirsch


  • Edgardo E. Zablotsky


ENGLISH VERSION: In Argentina today it has become essential for the State to provide assistance to a large portion of the population; nevertheless, this social work lacks purpose unless it is used to encourage those who are assisted to fend for themselves. Otherwise, the beneficiaries would be condemned to virtual indigence, as they would be indirectly excluded from productive society. This concept of philanthropy as opposed to charity is not new; and it is interesting to note that more than one century ago, in Argentina, a singularly successful philanthropic undertaking was carried out that was imbued with this ideology. In 1891 Baron Maurice de Hirsch founded the Jewish Colonization Association, which was to become one of the greatest philanthropic undertakings of its time, through which a gigantic experiment in social welfare was carried out, based on the organized immigration of thousands of people from the Russian Empire to Argentina, with the aim of setting up agricultural colonies. Immigrants were to be given the opportunity to own their land, although this was not a gift, as they were required to pay for it, just as they were required to repay all the loans in kind received during their transfer through to their first harvests, as well as the corresponding interest. This paper represents a first step in the study of this enterprise. In it, we will center our attention on the views on philanthropy held by Baron de Hirsch, illustrating them by reference to the various projects carried out on the basis of that ideology. SPANISH VERSION: En la Argentina de hoy resulta indispensable que el Estado asista a una gran parte de la población; sin embargo, el trabajo social carece, en el largo plazo, de sentido a no ser que mediante el mismo se incentive a aquellos que son asistidos a valerse por si mismos. De lo contrario se estaría condenando a los beneficiarios a la virtual indigencia, al indirectamente perpetuarlos fuera de la sociedad productiva. Esta concepción de la filantropía, opuesta al concepto de caridad, no es nueva; sin embargo, resulta interesante remarcar que hace mas de un siglo, en nuestro país, se llevó a cabo con singular éxito una gigantesca empresa filantrópica embuída de dicha ideología no asistencialista. En 1891 el Barón Maurice de Hirsch fundó la Jewish Colonization Association, la cual habría de convertirse en una de las mayores empresas filantrópicas de su tiempo, conduciendo un gigantesco experimento en bienestar social consistente en la inmigración organizada de miles de personas desde el Imperio Ruso hacia nuestro país, estableciéndolas en colonias agrícolas. Los inmigrantes habrían de tener el derecho de acceder a la propiedad de la tierra, pero no en forma gratuita, sino luego de haberla abonado, al igual que la totalidad de los préstamos en especie recibidos durante el traslado y hasta las primeras cosechas, y aún el respectivo interés sobre los mismos. Este paper constituye una primera etapa en dirección al estudio de dicha empresa. En el mismo centramos nuestra atención en la visión del Barón de Hirsch sobre la filantropía, e ilustramos la misma mediante diversos proyectos llevados a cabo en virtud de dicha ideología.

Suggested Citation

  • Edgardo E. Zablotsky, 2004. "Philanthropy vs. unproductive charity. The case of Baron Maurice de Hirsch / Filantropía no asistencialista. El caso del Barón Maurice de Hirsch," CEMA Working Papers: Serie Documentos de Trabajo. 264, Universidad del CEMA.
  • Handle: RePEc:cem:doctra:264

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Harberger, Arnold C, 1993. "Secrets of Success: A Handful of Heroes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 343-350, May.
    2. Robert A. Mundell, 1962. "The Appropriate Use of Monetary and Fiscal Policy for Internal and External Stability," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 9(1), pages 70-79, March.
    3. Samuelson, Paul A, 1977. "A Modern Theorist's Vindication of Adam Smith," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 42-49, February.
    4. Kindleberger, Charles P, 1986. "International Public Good without International Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 1-13, March.
    5. R. G. Lipsey & Kelvin Lancaster, 1956. "The General Theory of Second Best," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 11-32.
    6. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
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    More about this item


    Baron Maurice de Hirsch; Jewish Colonization Association; philanthropy; Barón Maurice de Hirsch; filantropía; asistencialismo;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • N96 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Latin America; Caribbean

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