Marx's "anti-Semitism"

Rob Frantz rfrantz at
Thu Aug 10 10:46:52 MDT 1995

In your posts on Marx's anti-Semitism, you minimized it and called this
charge against him a canard. I responded against this, but you make no
mention of it. Marx, descended from  a line of rabbis, converted to
Christianity, later an atheist, held anti-Semitic attitudes to one degree
or anothher his whole life. This truth is important, but it doesn't in my
opinion, as I'm sure yours, mean Marxism is anti-Semitic or Marxists are
anti-Semities, though some may be.

Concerning the quotes from the Cantor and Shahak book, I have nothing
negative to say. They are in accord with my understanding of modern
European Jewish history. I've not read the Cantor, but in fact, finished
the Shahak book less than two weeks ago, after borrowing it from a friend.
and for that reason, I can't quote from it. It paints a very negative picture
of Orthodox Judaism, but I don't remember him seeing Marxist socialism as
a solution. If you (Louis) can quote to the contrary, please do.

Lastly, I do not believe that capitalism has been responsible for the
real persecution of the Jews. It's not quite that simple. In many ways,
capitalism liberated Jews. That's part of the picture of the Shahak book
I remember. His case also was that religiously Orthodox Zionists would like
to return Israeli Jewry to the feudal power structure shattered by
bourgeois society, which many Jews ran towards with open arms. It's
true that the decay of some capitalist societies laid the conditions for
the furious anti-Semitism of the Nazis, but I also do not believe, as many
Marxists do, that National Socialism was the most advanced form of
capitalist ideology. That's also much to simple and vbery misleading.

In closing, I was recruited to the revolutionary brand of Marxism in the
early 1970s primarily because I then believed it a solution to
anti-Semitism.  I have long since given up that belief. I see no historical
proof for it whatsoever. It is, as so many philosophical schemas held by
Leninists and/or Luxembourgists, pure idealism, Messianism. Anti-Semitism
was and has remained a powerful force in all those lands that became, to use
that euphemism, workers states. Marxist idealists, like their Christian
counterparts, wish to absolve Marxism from any responsibility for this.
They, as their Christian counterparts, say this wasn't real Marxism, true
Marxism, pure Marxism. Because I am not an idealist, I will not cast my lot
with this Messianic movement, which generally has led to totalitarian
disaster and anti-Semitism. I prefer to muddle my way through life as a
"temporizing, reformist social-democrat."

Rob "Blow Harmonica Blow" Frantz
Seattle, WA

On Wed, 9 Aug 1995, Louis N Proyect wrote:

> Louis Proyect:
> Look, Rob, I'm as familiar with those quotes from Marx as you are. I
> think it would be much more worth your while to comment on the passages from
> Norman Cantor and Israel Shahak instead. Shahak, who has a tattoo on his arm
> from Belsen, has said things about the state of Israel and official Jewry
> that are pretty inflammatory from the point of view of Jews who have not
> learned to put a critical distance between their tribal religion and
> themselves.
> Besides, the real point is that capitalism has been responsible for the
> persecution of Jews above all else. If you want to see the end of
> anti-Jewish persecution, then you should adopt a steadfast anticapitalist
> stance like Rosa Luxemburg's, Leon Trotsky's or Isaac Deutscher's, rather
> than the temporizing, reformist social democratic stance that so many
> rueful ex-60s radicals seem too eager to embrace nowadays.
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