The masses are crazy with fashion, but what is it? Fashion is not a desire to be thoroughly different: a fashion-minded lady won’t pull on odd clothes, though they would differentiate her most clearly. Fashion can be described as a way of differentiating within a trend, or even more narrowly of perfecting a trend. The fashionable trend, though often described as breaking out of the mold, is really a mold of its own: it may not embrace 90 percent of the population, but it does not 10percent, either—a substantial part of the population subscribes to the fashion. Few people are willing to break out of the mold altogether.

Fashion is surprisingly conservative: real changes come rarely and when long overdue; witness the emergence of the mini-skirt. This must not be surprising: the people who are so susceptible to mass opinion as to change their wardrobes in accordance with current magazines are ultra-conservative. They don’t venture far from public opinion. In the world of fashion, opinion changes often, so the fashion-lovers are conservative adherents of the ever-changing object. Again, this is unsurprising: the masses adhere to the lowest common denominator and lose individual intelligence in herding; they cannot be bright and enterprising. Radically changing societies is the domain of a few.

What about hippies? Their agenda was pretty revolutionary and the following huge, but mass revolutionary movements are always short-lived. They can only clear the field for professionals who take over and build the new society. In such a way, Russian revolutionaries cleared the scene for communist bureaucracy. Hippies did not aim at creating a new bureaucratic order, and they failed. In a sense, they lacked a “day-after” solution. In a sense, they cleared a place for American leftist political elite.

This is also a problem with religious Jews. If all the Israelis leftists agreed tomorrow to cede power to religious Jews, or give them a state of Judea, the rabbis would have to hire back all the same bureaucrats to run the state. The trouble is, rabbis have no political agenda. For 2,000 years, they nurtured the stateless Judaism of Exile; in the process, they thoroughly expunged the full-bloodied—and often bloody—Judaism of the Jewish nation-state in the Land of Israel. In order to stem messianic expectations, rabbis reinterpreted the commandments of war, justice, and purity to the point of practical extinction. Perhaps they saved Judaism; maybe they delayed the Redemption. Perhaps they are right that Jews must focus on survival at any cost. Or maybe I’m correct that Jews should pursue Jewish objectives to the utmost and let God care of his people if he needs us. Whatever the case, their Judaism is inapplicable to the sovereign Jewish state—that is, if we want it to be Jewish.

Rabbis commonly wonder why secular European Jews assimilate and Tel Aviv youth does not embrace Judaism. Simple: because there is no “day-after” solution, no practical significance; their Judaism is removed from reality. To observe Shabbat? Every Gentile European worker refrains from working on Saturday. Don’t eat pork? There are Gentile vegetarians. Kosher slaughter? Modern slaughter methods are more humane. Monotheism? Every Christian proclaims his monotheism. Sure, any Jew with a minimal religious education can cite a thousand differences, but those minuscule things are hardly worth persisting as a Jew against the entire world.

Look at Muslims. Their clergy developed a mass following by relating religion to everyday life, by erecting practical distinctions from others. Imams explain to common Muslims the source of their daily troubles, substantiate hatred of actual enemies with religious doctrines, create close-knit groups, and call Muslims to actions, particularly such easy and energizing actions as rallies.

Rabbi Meir Kahane successfully employed a similar approach when he addressed atheist Sephardis: he drove a direct connection between religion and politics, down to the minutest daily realities. Arabs take your jobs? Here is a commandment to expel the natives. Terrorism? Here is a law to be merciless to your enemies. On and on, Rabbi Kahane connected the Torah to contemporary affairs.

Rabbis derided Kahane’s teaching as non-kosher. Perhaps there is something wrong with their kashrut. If we want normal Jews to carry on the torch of Judaism, we have to redefine it as nationalist ideology. Or, rather, to return to the Torah’s Judaism of a powerful Israeli national state.