Marx on the Jewish Question

Ralph Dumain rdumain at
Thu Aug 10 01:43:21 MDT 1995

Leo, I wish I had more time to flay you alive for your childish
bullshit.  But I must be brief.

The article you cite has nothing to do with Marx's attitude toward
ethnic issues.  It does not have much to do with his attitude
toward Jews, and is not even concerned with assimilation.

The one who demanded Jews give up Judaism was Bruno Bauer, who
argued that Jews were two steps removed from secular universalism
while the Christian Germans were only one step removed.  (Bauer
lost his job for advocating atheism and the complete fictionality
of the Bible.)  Bauer opposed the notion of Jewish political
emancipation as he opposed all ameliorative social action.

Marx defended the political emancipation of the Jews and refuted
Bauer's idealistic position.  But Marx went further.  He
distinguished political from human emancipation.  Nonetheless, he
advocated political emancipation.

The thrust of Marx's scorn against the Young Hegelians, which
culminates later in his critique of Stirner, is a thrust against
judging material realities by ideological categories only and
taking people at their own valuation of themselves.  The question
that interests Marx is, not what do Jews think they are in terms
of their own religious self-evaluation, but what are they socially
and economically in society?  Marx's debunking is precisely in
this spirit.

Marx in his doctoral dissertation took as his motto, in sooth I
hate all gods.  His contempt for the social principles of
Christianity is also known.  Marx came from a Jewish background.
Now why is hating Judaism as a religion anti-Semitic?  Indeed, the
world should be liberated from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and
the rest.  The world will be a much better place when such
abominations are eradicated.  Good fucking riddance.

So what's left of your damning evidence is Marx's remarks about
Jews as hagglers, money-worshippers, etc.  Now where do you
suppose Marx got all this?  Though his own immediate family became
Christianized to get along in Germany, Marx was of Jewish origin.
What do you make out of calling a Jew anti-semitic?  Other people
smarter than you of course discovered Marx as a self-hating Jew.
But where would Marx get his ideas of the "real Jew"?  Why would
he rebel against this socio-economic role which he labels Jewish?
Why didn't Marx become a lawyer like his dad wanted and instead
went into philosophy?

I do not know what percentage of West European Jews were actually
merchants, bankers, what have you.  This stereotype was widely
held.  If it really was a stereotype in Germany and not reflective
of reality, then Marx could be blamed for perpetuating a venal
stereotype.  That's all you've got in the end.  But then Marx was
of Jewish ancestry himself.

You've not got much left, and I for one am not particularly
impressed by the anti-semitic nature of the passage you find so
damning.  Least of all does it have anything to do with identity
politics, assimilation, and the rest of your baloney.  Marx's
essay was a crude first attempt at historical materialism among
other things and a preliminary definition of his view of politics,
society, and ideology.

Leo, don't you have anything more important to occupy your mind?
Don't settle for being a mediocre professorial peckerhead.  Get an
intellectual life.

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