Marx, Jews, Maradona (was RE: New biography of Marx)

João Paulo Monteiro jpmonteiro at
Wed Sep 29 15:35:43 MDT 1999

João Paulo Monteiro wrote:

> Marx's paternal grandfather Marx Levi was a rabbi in Trier. He was
> succeeded in the post by his son (Karl's uncle) Samuel Marx. Samuel's
> son (and Karl's cousin) Moses Marx was trained to be a rabbi. Marx's
> mother, Henrietta Pressburg, came from a dutch jewish family also with a
> long series of rabbis in its lineage. Trier was a small town. The Marxs
> were a very prominent jewish family, probably THE JEWS par excellence
> there.

The point of this is: I don't think we can say that Marx had no conscience
of being jew, was really an average german intellectual and, as such, was
wrapped up in a certain culture of anti-semitist prejudice. This won't do.

I would say that he inherited, proceeded and radicalized the process of
secularization initiated by his father. This led him, through a critique of
religion - where he encountered such figures as David Strauss, Bruno Bauer
and Feuerbach - and idealism in general to radical democracy and communism.

Faced with the social pressure of anti-semitism, he saw no reason to come
back on these steps. He was already a long way from "home". He had been
following relentlessly a line of thought that could be characterized as
western dessacralization. Identity politics had no appeal and anti-semitism
was morally indifferent to him. He was riding high, right on the crest of
the promethean wave. He had no home.

When the sting of anti-semitism reached his flesh directly, he had no group
defenses. He just kept moving on towards the universalist rainbow, loathing
both offenders and offended. For him, "jewish" was parochial, backward,
reactionary. And "german" was just the next step to be superseded.

Of course, his were different times. But I would dare say not even the
holocaust would make him change course. Not only would he be anti-zionist
today, he would have nothing to do with jewishness and jewish problems.

For however we try to compromise politically with identity politics, and
offer a much due critique of euro-centrism, economicism, stageism, etc., I
think that this sense of the irreversibility of the arrow of History is
still something very deeply ingrained in the marxist system.

João Paulo Monteiro

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