New biography of Marx

James Farmelant farmelantj at
Sun Sep 26 14:20:44 MDT 1999

On Sun, 26 Sep 1999 11:21:00 -0400 Louis Proyect <lnp3 at> writes:
>>Arno Meyer makes the useful distinction between "Judeophobia"
>>prejudice), "anti-Semitism" (institutionalised forms taken by such
>>prejudice - the Twentieth Century phenomenon) and "anti-Judaism" by
>which he
>>means hostile feelings or actions directed against the Jewish
>religion or
>>Jews as adherents of that religion. I would think Marx's outlook was
>>coloured by  bits of the first and third.

I would be inclined to agree.  In that respect Marx was not unlike
many Jewish intellectuals of the 19th century who often viewed
their Jewish origins with some discomfort.  Jewish intellectuals
like Heine, Moses Hess or some of the early Zionists all made
comments about the Jews or Judaism that were smilar to Marx's.

>Coincidently, Tariq Ali--the reviewer of the new Marx bio--made an
>interesting observation on the racist remarks in Marx-Engels
>when he was in NYC to promote his unreadable "Book of Saladdin". He
>that in the mid-19th century the only way people could communicate
>distance was through letters, which were really the equivalent of a
>phone-call today. Marx and Engels were not really writing for
>posterity in
>such letters, but simply thinking out loud with some undigest muck
>to the surface from time to time. The more relevant question is
>these sorts of racial comments ever found their way into their public
>output. Compare them to Kant, for instance, whose classes at the
>were peppered by remarks about the inferiority of non-Europeans. I
>the worst instance of this sort of thing in the entire Marx-Engels
>body of
>written work is Engels' reference to "Kaffirs" in the "Origins of the

In this repsect Marx & Engels stand out not only from most of the
major thinkers of the 19th century but even from their fellow
revolutionaries.  The French anarchist Proudhon was not above
expressing anti-Semitic sentiments in print.  And Marx's rival
for leadership of the First International, Mikhail Bakunin
in his public speeches and articles against Marx, unleashed
volleys of anti-Semitic and anti-German rhetoric against Marx.

                Jim Farmelant

>Louis Proyect

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