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Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Karl Marx: Radical Antisemitism

Post by Michael Ezra

In a review of the recently published book, Antisemitic Myths: A Historical and Contemporary Anthology, edited by Marvin Perry and Frederick M. Schweitzer, David Hirsh has argued that it is a “standard misreading” of Marx to say that “Marx was an antisemite.” With this, he concurs with Robert Fine, who attempted to “explode the myth” of Marx’s antisemitism. As far as Professor Fine is concerned, those who believe this “myth” have an “inability” to read Marx or comprehend Marx’s “ironic style” of writing.

What truth is there in this argument? Marx’s essay, On the Jewish Question, originally published in 1844 contains the following:
What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.…. Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man – and turns them into commodities…. The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange…. The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general.

Marx argues that, “In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism. Larry Ray explains, “Marx’s position is essentially an assimilationist one in which there is no room within emancipated humanity for Jews as a separate ethnic or cultural identity.” Dennis Fischman puts it, “Jews, Marx seems to be saying, can only become free when, as Jews, they no longer exist.”

The British journalist and historian Paul Johnson has argued that “The second part of Marx’s essay is almost a classic anti-Semitic tract, based upon a fantasied Jewish archetype and a conspiracy to corrupt the world.” The American historian, Gertrude Himmelfarb argued that it cannot be denied that in his essay On the Jewish Question, Marx expressed views that “were part of the classic repertoire of anti-Semitism.”

And so it goes on. Noted expert on antisemitism, Robert Wistrich, declared, (Soviet Jewish Affairs, 4:1, 1974) “the net result of Marx’s essay [On The Jewish Question] is to reinforce a traditional anti-Jewish stereotype - the identification of the Jews with money-making - in the sharpest possible manner.” In his book, Political Discourse in Exile: Karl Marx and the Jewish Question , Denis Fischman comments that in the second section of his essay, “Marx seems fairly to bristle with anti-Jewish sentiments.”

Even the anti-Zionist Joel Kovel, whose political views I normally have no time for, has said:
By anti-Semitism I mean the denial of the right of the Jew to autonomous existence, i.e., to freely determine his/her own being as Jew. Anti-Semitism therefore entails an attitude of hostility to the Jew as Jew. This is an act of violence, addressed to an essential property of humanity: the assertion of an identity, which may be understood as a socially shared structuring of subjectivity. To attack the free assumption of identity is to undermine the social foundation of the self. Judged by these criteria, OJQ [On the Jewish Question] is without any question an anti-Semitic tract - significantly, only in its second part, “Die Fähigkeit.” No attempt to read these pages as a play on words can conceal the hostility which infuses them, and is precisely directed against the identity of the Jew.

In fact, so commonly held is the view that Marx was an anti-Semite that in 1964, Shlomo Avineri, a leading commentator on Marx, stated (“Marx and Jewish Emancipation,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 1964) “That Karl Marx was an inveterate antisemite is today considered a commonplace which is hardly ever questioned.” Despite the opinions of numerous commentators, for Professor Fine, Marx’s stated views are not anti-Semitic but “witty” and “ironic.” In On the Jewish Question, Marx discusses the “practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world.” I am not sure whether this is “witty” or “ironic.” Perhaps Professor Fine would like to explain. Marx’s essay also contains accusations against the Jewish religion which Marx says has “Contempt for theory, art, history, and for man as an end in himself.” Witty? Ironic? I think not.

To the credit of Professor Fine, he does not exonerate the left: “modern, political anti-Semitism is a creature of the left as well as the right” but what he does seem to do is disassociate left antisemitism from Marx.

Ulrike Meinhof of the Marxist Red Army Faction posed the question “How was Auschwitz possible, what was anti-Semitism?” and stated the opinion that “Auschwitz means that six million Jews were murdered and carted on to the rubbish dumps of Europe for being that which was maintained of them—Money-Jews.” As far as she was concerned, hatred of Jews was actually the hatred of capitalism and hence the murder of the Israeli Olympic team, at 1972 Munich Olympics, was not only justified but something that could be praised. Whilst Meinhof’s explanation is perverse, it seems to me that such an interpretation can be explained if one’s understanding of how Marxists should view Jews is obtained from Marx’s own essay,On the Jewish Question.

When considering Marx and his views towards Jews, one must go further than his infamous essay, his correspondence also needs to be considered. Marx used the Bambergers to borrow money but showed contempt for them. In a derogatory fashion he referred to the father and son as “Jew Bamberger” or “little Jew Bamberger.” Similarly, Spielmann, whose name appears frequently in correspondence between Marx and Engels was referred to as “Jew Spielmann.” When on holiday in Ramsgate in 1879, Marx reported to Engels that the resort contained “many Jews and fleas.” In an earlier letter to Engels, Marx referred to Ferdinand Lassalle as a “Jewish nigger.” Professor Fine has not discussed this but I do not see such comments as “witty” or “ironic,” they are simply racist.

If they are not ignoring such expressions, apologists for Marx will even try and whitewash them. In a 1942 Soviet English language publication of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: Selected Correspondence, 1846-1895, such terminology could not be ignored and the following note (cited by Diane Paul, “‘In the Interests of Civilization’: Marxist Views of Race and Culture in the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 1981) was included:
With reference to the use of the word “nigger” which occurs in this book: Marx used the word while living in England, in the last century. The word does not have the same connotation as it has now in the U.S. and should be read as “Negro” whenever it occurs in the text.

The excuse seems to be along the lines of: “Yes, a racist term is used, but pretend that a non racist term was used instead.” It is a simply ludicrous excuse and it exposes the depths to which apologists of Marx will sink.

It was in his article, “The Russian Loan,” published in the New-York Daily Tribune on January 4, 1856, that the grotesque antisemitism of Karl Marx’s writing was on full display:
Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew, as is every pope by a Jesuit. In truth, the cravings of oppressors would be hopeless, and the practicability of war out of the question, if there were not an army of Jesuits to smother thought and a handful of Jews to ransack pockets.

… the real work is done by the Jews, and can only be done by them, as they monopolize the machinery of the loanmongering mysteries by concentrating their energies upon the barter trade in securities… Here and there and everywhere that a little capital courts investment, there is ever one of these little Jews ready to make a little suggestion or place a little bit of a loan. The smartest highwayman in the Abruzzi is not better posted up about the locale of the hard cash in a traveler’s valise or pocket than those Jews about any loose capital in the hands of a trader… The language spoken smells strongly of Babel, and the perfume which otherwise pervades the place is by no means of a choice kind.

… Thus do these loans, which are a curse to the people, a ruin to the holders, and a danger to the governments, become a blessing to the houses of the children of Judah. This Jew organization of loan-mongers is as dangerous to the people as the aristocratic organization of landowners… The fortunes amassed by these loan-mongers are immense, but the wrongs and sufferings thus entailed on the people and the encouragement thus afforded to their oppressors still remain to be told.

… The fact that 1855 years ago Christ drove the Jewish moneychangers out of the temple, and that the moneychangers of our age enlisted on the side of tyranny happen again chiefly to be Jews, is perhaps no more than a historical coincidence. The loan-mongering Jews of Europe do only on a larger and more obnoxious scale what many others do on one smaller and less significant. But it is only because the Jews are so strong that it is timely and expedient to expose and stigmatize their organization.

A Marxist website has provided a list of articles written by Karl Marx between 1852 and 1861 for the New York Daily Tribune. It does not surprise me that “The Russian Loan” does not appear on this list. When apologists for Marx’s antisemitism run out of explanations, they simply ignore his words.


Note from JR: The Marx article referred to immediately above was however reprinted in "Karl Marx, The Eastern Question" (ed. by Eleanor Marx & Edward Aveling, 1897: new ed. 1969). pp. 600-606. I have also previously excerpted it here

Sunday, February 03, 2008

From my own readings of Marx, what stood out was how he despised just about everybody. So I thought the small excerpt below from David Hulme about Marx was to the point:

A violent man will beget violent ideas. As noted earlier, Bruno Bauer had taught that a world catastrophe was in the making. From an early age Marx was possessed of the idea that Doomsday was around the corner. Johnson notes that Marx's poetry includes expressions of "savagery . . . intense pessimism about the human condition, hatred, a fascination with corruption and violence, suicide pacts and pacts with the devil." A poem about Marx, variously attributed to Engels and to Bauer's brother Edgar, describes him as "A dark fellow from Trier, a vigorous monster, / . . . / With angry fist clenched, he rants ceaselessly, / As though ten thousand devils held him by the hair."

In Marx's personal life, violence was never far from the surface. He was verbally abusive, and arguments were common within his family. According to an Encyclopedia Britannica account on Marx, his father even expressed fears that Jenny von Westphalen was "destined to become a sacrifice to the demon that possessed his son." Jenny commented early about the rancor and irritation she often experienced in dealing with her fiance.

Summarizing Marx's animosities, the late British historian Sir Arthur Bryant wrote: "Among his innumerable hates were the Christian religion, his parents, his wife's uncle—'the hound'—his German kinsfolk, his own race—'Ramsgate is full of fleas and Jews', the Prussian reactionaries, the Liberal and utopian Socialist allies, the labouring population—'Lumpenproletariat' or 'riff-raff'—democracy—'parliamentary cretinism'—and the British royal family—'the English mooncalf and her princely urchins,' as he called them. His self-imposed task he defined as 'the ruthless criticism of everything that exists.'"


Marx did of course have a nasty skin disease (hidradenitis suppurativa) which would probably have made most people pretty grumpy.

And Karl's father, Heinrich, was a real gentleman. You can read his letter to Karl about Jenny von Westfalen here

Saturday, July 07, 2007

(The article below is from Encounter of July 1975, pages 18-23. The authors, W. O. Henderson and W. H. Chaloner, translated and edited a 1971 edition of Engels' The Condition of the Working Class in England. The article below was part of a "Men and Ideas" series. You can see a photocopy of the original article here. The quotations given are fairly fully footnoted except for the initial selection, which mostly come from Zur Judenfrage. Zur Judenfrage is available in German here and in English here. Online links for most of the quotes can be found via Google once allowance for differences in translation are made. The translations below are generally very elegant. Where Google does not satisfy, most works by Marx and Engels can be found online in order of date at the Marx/Engels library)

Marx/Engels and Racism

By W. H. Chaloner & W. O. Henderson

WHILE Scholars on the Continent have long been aware of the fact that Karl Marx held anti-Semitic views, the same cannot generally be said of their colleagues in England and America.

Marx was a Jew; and when he was growing up in Trier the Jews, though not persecuted, were treated as second-class citizens and excluded from certain professions. No Jew could hold a commission in the Prussian army or practise as a lawyer at the bar. To continue as a member of the legal profession Marx's father became a Christian and was baptised by a Lutheran army chaplain.

As a boy Marx realised that he was different from his fellows. He had been baptised, but he was "a Jew by race" and suffered from the anti-Semitism prevalent in Germany in his day. His reaction to the situation was an extraordinary one. He ranged himself with the anti-Semites and denounced his own people in a most violent fashion. [1]

His attitude towards the Jews was made clear in two articles which he wrote in 1843 at the age of 25. They were reviews of a book and an article by Bruno Bauer on the Jewish question, and they appeared in the Deutsch-Franzoesische Jahrbuecher (published in Paris in 1844) [2]. Marx regarded capitalism, as operated by the middle classes, as inherently evil; and he argued that Jewish money-making activities lay at the very heart of the obnoxious capitalist system. The following extracts from Marx's articles indicate his point of view of the Jewish question in his day.

"What is the worldly raison d'etre of Jewry [Judaism]? The practical necessity of Jewry is self-interest."

"What is the worldly religion of the Jews? It is the petty haggling of the hawker."

"What is his worldly God?" "It is money."

"So in Jewry we recognise a contemporary universal anti-social phenomenon, which has reached its present pitch through a process of, historical development in which the Jews have zealously co-operated. And this evil anti-social aspect of Jewry has grown to a stage at which: it must necessarily collapse."

"The Jews have emancipated themselves in a Jewish fashion. Not only have they mastered the; power of money but - with or without the Jews - money has become a world power. The Jews have emancipated themselves by turning Christians into Jews:"

"Money is the most zealous God of Israel and no other God can compete with him. Money debases all human Gods and turns them into goods. Money is the universal value of everything."

"The God of the Jews has become secularised and bas become a World God. The bill of exchange is the real God of the Jews."

"Jewry reaches its climax in the consummation of bourgeois society - and bourgeois society has reached its highest point in the Christian world."

In 1845, in The Holy Family, Marx claimed that in his articles in the Deutsch-Franzoesische Jahrbuecher he had "proved that the task of abolishing the essence of Jewry is in truth the task of abolishing Jewry in civil society, abolishing the inhumanity of today's practice of life, the summit of which is the money system." [3]

In 1849 an article in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung (of which Marx was the editor) criticised the notion that Jews living in Prussia's Polish provinces should be regarded as Germans. The article declared that these Jews were "the filthiest of all races." "Neither by speech nor by descent - but only by their greed for profit - can they be looked upon as relatives of the Germans in Frankfurt."

One of Marx's critical biographers has remarked: "this solution of the Jewish question was not very different from Adolf Hitler's, for it involved the liquidation of Judaism.." [4]

THERE ARE NUMEROUS uncomplimentary references to Jews in Karl Marx's letters to his close friend Friedrich Engels in the 1850s and 1860s. At that time Marx was living in London and his earnings as a free-lance journalist - he was a regular contributor to the New York Daily Tribune - were quite insufficient for his needs. Engels, then employed as a clerk by the firm of Ermen & Engels in Manchester, sent him small remittances whenever he could. Even so Marx failed to make ends meet and - when there was nothing more to pledge at the pawnbrokers - he borrowed money from anyone who would lend it.

He had many dealings with Jewish financial agents in the City of London. The Bambergers (father and son) [5], as well as Stiefel and Spielmann, were German Jews whose names frequently crop up in the Marx-Engels correspondence. Marx made use of the Jews to raise small loans and, to discount bills of exchange received from Charles A. Dana (editor of the New York Tribune) in advance payment of articles which Marx had agreed to write. Marx complained bitterly that the Jews would not discount his bills until confirmation from Dana had been received; [6] and he was furious when they pressed him to honour debts due-for repayment. Marx showed his contempt by always referring to them as "Jew [or "little Jew"] Bamberger" and "Jew Spielmann", or by imitating the nasal twang characteristic of the way in which some Jews from Eastern Europe spoke German. [7]

Yet Marx had cause to regret the day when the Bambergers were not in business in London any more and were no longer available to discount his bills of exchange. In 1859 he wrote to Engels: "it is the devil of a nuisance that I have no Bamberger in London any more.." [8]

MARX'S ANTI-SEMITISM may be illustrated by examining his attitude towards Ferdinand Lassalle, who was a Jew from Breslau in Silesia. As. a young man Lassalle had led the workers of Duesseldorf during the revolution of 1848. But he had never been a member of the Communist League, since his application to join the Cologne branch had been turned down: and he had taken no part in the risings in Germany in 1849 in support of the Frankfurt constitution, since he had been in jail at that time.

Consequently in the 1850s, while nearly all the former supporters of the revolution were either in prison or in exile, Lassalle was able to live in Duesseldorf, without being unduly molested by the authorities. It was to Marx's advantage to keep in touch with Lassalle, who gave him news of the underground workers' movement "in the Rhineland. And through his aristocratic connections - he was a close friend of the Countess of Hatzfeld - he was sometimes able to provide Marx with useful political information which he could use in articles contributed to the New York Tribune and Die Presse. But while Marx regarded himself as the head or a great politica1 movement who should be obeyed by his followers, Lassalle declined to be a mere disciple and was determined to be a leader of the German workers in his own right.

The correspondence between Marx and Lassalle [9] suggests that the two men were colleagues who - despite certain differences of opinion - were collaborating to achieve a common aim. But the letters exchanged between Marx and Engels tell a very different story. Here Marx showed his contempt for the Jew who presumed to have opinions and ambitions of his own. When Lassalle was Marx's guest in London in 1862 Marx wrote to Engels:

"It is now perfectly clear to me that, as the shape of his head and the growth of his hair indicate, he is descended from the negroes who joined in the flight of Moses from Egypt (unless his mother or grandmother on the father's side was crossed with a nigger). Now this union of Jewishness to Germanness on a negro basis was bound to produce an extraordinary hybrid. The importunity of the fellow is also niggerlike." [10]

Marx referred to his guest as a "Jewish nigger" who was "completely deranged." He frequently used derogatory epithets when writing about Lassalle, such as "Itzig" (Ikey), "Ephraim Gescheit" and "Judel Braun." And Marx's wife, in a letter to Engels, called Lassalle "the little Berlin Jew."

AFTER LASSALLE'S DEATH in 1864 there are fewer uncomplimentary remarks about Jews in the Marx-Engels correspondence than before. In that year Engels became a partner in the firm of Ermen & Engels, and from 1867 onwards he paid Marx an annual allowance of 350 pounds. So, although Marx's financial problems were by no means solved, he had less need than formerly to try to borrow money from Jews - such as Ignaz Horn [12] and Leo Frankel [13].

He wrote to Engel's in 1875 that he had got into conversation with "a sly looking Yid" on a journey from London to Rotterdam. He was clearly delighted to be able to report that his loquacious Jewish travelling companion had been the victim of some sharp practice in a business deal [14]. And in his old age when on holiday in Ramsgate, Marx declared that there were "many Jews and fleas" at the resort [15].

IT WAS NOT ONLY in private letters to his closest friend that Marx indulged in anti-Semitic outbursts. In an article in the New York Tribune (4 January 1856), in which he discussed an international loan to be raised by the Russian government to finance the war in the Crimea, Marx savagely attacked the Jewish financiers who co-operated to place the loan [16]. Marx wrote:

"This loan is brought out under the auspices of the house of Stieglitz at St Petersburg. Stieglitz is to Alexander what Rothschild is to Francis Joseph, what Fould is to Louis Napoleon. The late Czar Nicholas made Stieglitz a Russian baron, as the late Kaiser Franz made old Rothschild an Austrian baron, while Louis Napoleon has made a cabinet minister of Fould, with a free ticket to the Tuileries for the females of his family. Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew. as is every Pope by a Jesuit. In truth, the cravings of oppressors would be hopeless, and the practicability of war out of the question, if there were not an army of Jesuits to smother thought and a handful of Jews to ransack pockets."

Hope & Co. of Amsterdam played an important role in placing the Russian loan. This was not a Jewish firm, but Marx declared that

"the Hopes lend only the prestige of their name; the real work is done by Jews, and can only be done by them as they monopolise the machinery of the loan-mongering mysteries by concentrating their energies upon the barter-trade in securities, and the changing of money and negotiating of bills in a great measure arising there from.

Take Amsterdam for instance, a city harbouring many of the worst descendants of the Jews whom Ferdinand and Isabella drove out of Spain, and who, after lingering a while in Portugal, were driven thence also, and eventually found a safe place of retreat in Holland. In Amsterdam alone they number not less: than 35,000, many of whom are engaged in this gambling and jobbing of securities... Their business is to watch the monies available for investment and keenly observe where they lie. Here and there and everywhere that a little capital courts investment there is ever one of these little Jews ready to make a little suggestion or place a little bit of a loan. The smartest highwayman in the Abruzzi is not better posted about the locale of the hard cash in a traveller's valise or pocket, than those Jews about any loose capital in the hands of a trader."

Marx went on to attack the Jewish finance houses of Koenigswarter, Raphael, Stem, Bischoffsheim, Rothschild, Mendelssohn, Bleichroeder, Fould and many others. He declared that many of these families were linked by marriage and he observed that

"the loan mongering Jews derive much of their strength from these family relations, as these, in addition to their lucre affinities, give a compactness and unity to their operations which ensure their success."

Marx concluded his article as follows:

"This Eastern war is destined at all events to throw some light upon this system of loan-mongering as well as other systems. Meanwhile the Czar will get his fifty millions and let the English journals say what they please, if he wants five fifties more, the Jews will dig them up. Let us not be thought too severe upon these loan-mongering gentry. The fact that 1855 years ago Christ drove the Jewish money-changers out of the temple, and that the money-changers of our age enlisted on the side of tyranny happen again chiefly to be Jews, is perhaps no more than a historical coincidence.

The loan-mongering Jews of Europe do only on a larger and more obnoxious scale what many others do on one smaller and less significant. But it is only because the Jews are so strong that it is timely and expedient to expose and stigmatise their organisation."

There was a kind of bitter justice in the fact that Marx, who detested his own race, should have suffered from the anti-Semitic views of others. There were those who attacked Marx because he was a Jew and who branded the political movement that he led as a Jewish conspiracy. [16a]

ENGELS' ATTITUDE towards the Jews was quite different from that of Marx. [17] He had never denounced the Jews as a race of petty traders and money-lenders and as Marx had done in his youthful article in the Deutsch-Franzoesische Jahrbuecher [18]. Indeed he later declared that anti-Semitism was the mark of a backward culture and was confined to Russia, Austria and Prussia [19].

In 1881 Eduard Bernstein sent Engels some examples of anti-Semitic propaganda in Germany. Engels replied that he had never seen anything so stupid or childish. He praised the Sozial-Demokrat - the leading socialist paper in Germany at the time of Bismarck's Anti-Socialist Law - for coming out firmly against anti-Semitism. Engels quoted with approval a passage from a letter which he had recently received from a Jewish correspondent (Carl Hirsch), who had just been to Berlin. Hirsch had written that "the official press which prints anti-Semitic articles has few readers."

"While it is true that the Germans have a natural antipathy towards the Jews, it is also a fact that the working class, the radical petty bourgeoisie, and the middle-class philistines hate the government far more than they hate the Jews."

Bernstein, however disagreed with "Hirsch and claimed that anti-Semitic propaganda was falling upon fertile soil in Germany as far as civil servants, teachers, craftsmen, and peasants were concerned.

Ten years later Engels wrote to August Bebel that he was glad to learn that new Jewish recruits were joining the German Social Democrat Party. But he warned Bebel that socialists would have to keep a watchful eye on these Jewish colleagues because they were cleverer than the average bourgeois socialist and were - owing to centuries of oppression - in the habit of pushing themselves forward! [20]

ALTHOUGH ENGELS DISAPPROVED of anti-Semitism and welcomed Jews like Karl Kautsky and Alfred Adler as party colleagues, he did criticise particular Jews and groups of Jews. For example, in a comment on English politics in 1852 he contemptuously dismissed Disraeli as a "Jewish swindler." A few years later when he wished to express his disapproval of Lassalle's conduct, he referred to him as "a real Jew from the Slav frontier" and as "a greasy Jew disguised under brilliantine and flashy jewels." [22] In 1862, in a letter to Carl Siebel, he attacked the Jewish members of a German club (the Schiller Anstalt) in Manchester. He declared that he seldom visited this veritable "Jerusalem Club" any more because the noisy behaviour of the Jews inconvenienced other members.

"What has happened is what always happens when Jews are about. At first they thank God that they had a Schiller Anstalt, but hardly had they got inside than they declared that it was not good enough for them and that they wanted to build a bigger club house - a true temple of Moses - to which the Schiller Anstalt could be moved. This would indeed be the quickest road to bankruptcy . Look out! In a year or two you will get a circular reading like this: 'In view of the bankruptcy of the late Schiller Anstalt'" [23]

A few years later, however, when he was President of the Schiller Anstalt, Engels played a leading part in securing the larger premises that the Jewish members desired.

In 1864, during the crisis in the Lancashire cotton industry at the time of the American Civil War, Engels complained of the vexations that he had to endure in the office of Ermen & Engels because of "Jewish chicaneries." [24] In October 1867 and again in May 1868, Engels complained that his time was being wasted by visits from "that damned old Jew" Leibel Choras, who was a refugee from Moldavia where the Jews were being persecuted [25]. Engels obviously had little sympathy for Leibel Choras. And in 1870 Engels dismissed Leo Frankel as "a real little Yid" [26]

In 1892 in a letter to the French socialist leader Paul Lafargue - Marx's son-in-law - Engels even expressed a certain sympathy for the anti-Jewish movement in France. He wrote:

"I begin to understand French anti-Semitism when I see how many Jews of Polish origin with German names intrude themselves everywhere to the point of arousing public opinion in the ville lumiere, of which the Parisian philistine is so proud and which he believes to be the supreme power in the universe." [27]

Engels also expressed his contempt for the Polish Jews who were, in his view, "caricatures of Jews" [27]. He wrote to Laura Lafargue:

Business principle of the Polish Jew to ask much so as to be able to rebate, as for instance: "How much is a yard of this cloth?" "15 groschen." "He says 15, he means 12.5, he would take 10, and the cloth is worth 7.5. I am prepared to pay 5 so I will offer him 2.5 groschen." [29]

JUST AS ENGELS RARELY SHOWED any antipathy towards the Jews, so he had no prejudices against coloured peoples. He rejected the view commonly expressed by explorers and missionaries in his day that native peoples were "heathen savages" who were obviously inferior to white races. Indeed he argued that primitive peoples were superior to modern Europeans because they did not recognise private property or capitalism, or the state. In 1884 in his book on The Origin of the Family - based upon the researches of the American anthropologist L. H. Morgan - Engels gave a lyrical account of the "wonderful child-like simplicity" of the way of life in the Iroquois Indian tribes.

"Everything runs smoothly without soldiers, gendarmes, or police; without nobles, kings, governors, prefects, or judges, without prisons, without trials. All quarrels and disputes are settled by the whole body of those concerned. The household is run in common and communistically by a number of families, the land is tribal property, only the small gardens being temporarily assigned to the households. Not a bit of our extensive and complicated machinery of administration is required. There can be no poor or needy - the communistic household and the gens know their obligations towards the aged, the sick, and those disabled in war. All are free and equal - including the women. There is, as yet, no room for slaves nor, as a rule, for the subjugation of alien tribes." [30]

As an admirer of primitive races, Engels (like Marx) was strongly opposed to the exploitation of native peoples by white colonists. He denounced the expansion of the empires of European states in India, Java, Algiers and elsewhere. For Marx and Engels the rising in India in 1857 was no mere mutiny of Sepoy troops but a national revolt against the English oppressors. In a series of articles in the New York Tribune they analysed the causes and events of the Mutiny, which they regarded as an illustration of the "general disaffection exhibited against English supremacy on the part of the great Asiatic nations." [31]

In view of Engels's attitude towards the Jews, the Iroquois, and the natives in colonial territories, his attitude towards some of the Slavs is difficult to understand. When a Pan-Slav movement developed with Russian support in central and eastern Europe during the revolution of 1848 Engels rejected the demands of the Czechs, Serbs, Croats, and Ruthenians for independence from Habsburg or Turkish rule. Early in 1849 (in two articles in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung [32]) he argued that these peoples had no natura1 capacity for self-government and were for ever doomed to be ruled by more advanced nations. They were "peoples without any history."

Engels asserted that these peoples would always be subject races and would "never achieve national independence." "They are peoples who were either already under foreign rule when they entered into the first primitive phase of civilisation or who were actually forced into earliest phase of civilisation by their foreign masters." In the true spirit of Pan-Germanism, Marx and Engels considered the Czechoslovakian peoples and the South Slavs to be "ethnic trash."

TWO THINGS EMERGE from this study. The first is the extent to which Marx's anti-Semitism has been played down, or even ignored, in some popular socialist accounts of Marx's career and doctrines published in the West and intended for radical and socialist consumption. Thus, readers of Franz Mehring's Karl Marx (first published in English translation in 1936) will find little to enlighten them on Marx's anti-Semitism.

There may not be exactly a conspiracy of silence but attention may be drawn to the fact that there is a difference between telling the truth and telling the whole truth. Deception by omission is still deception. Western commentators, too, with a few honourable exceptions, have tended to dodge the issue or to gloss over unwelcome facts. Scholars unfamiliar with the German language, who rely only upon English translations of the writings of Marx and Engels, may be led astray if they use selections compiled by Marxists who are prepared to suppress evidence which might display their hero in a somewhat unfavourable light.

The second point is the striking contrast between Marx's benevolent desire to liberate the toiling masses from the tyranny of their capitalist exploiters and his ferocious attacks upon those; who appeared to stand in the way of his messianic hopes - the "idiotic" peasants and the "rapacious" Jews for example. Long after Marx's death his followers in Soviet Russia were acting quite in accordance with their master's views when they eliminated the Kulaks and persecuted the Jews.


1. Arnold Kuenzii has examined the psychological roots of Marx's anti-Semitism in Karl Marx: eine Psychographie (Vienna, 1966), esp. pp. 33-169, 195-226, 289-93. See also Camillo Berneri, Le Juif anti-Semite (Paris, 1935).

Yet even in West Germany an attempt is apparently being made to counter this realist view. There has recently been published in Hamburg a selection of Marxist pronouncements on the Jewish question (but omitting Marx's "Zur Judenfrage" of 1844 on the grounds that it is "easily available" elsewhere) - see: Marxisten gegen Antisemitismus (Hoffmann & Campe, 1974), with heavily pro-Marxist introductions by Iring Fetscher and Ilse Yago-Jung. One wonders whether a more appropriate title for this volume might not have been Marxisten gegen Judentum und Zionismus.

2. Karl Marx, "Zur Judenfrage" in Deutsch-Franzoesische Jahrbuecher (Paris, 1844), reprinted in Karl Marx/Friedrich 'Engels, Werke, Vol. 1 (1964), pp. 347-377; A World without Jews (tr. D.D. Runes, 1959). The first article reviewed Bruno Bauer, Die Judenfrage (1843), the second Bruno Bauer's article on "Die Fahigheit der heutigen Juden und Christen frei zu werden" in Einundzwanzig Bogen aus der Schweiz (ed. Georg Herwegh, 1843, pp.56-71). A reprint of the D-.F. Jahrbuecher has recently been issued in Leipzig, Verlag Reclam (1973); Marx's article appears on pp. 295-333.

The most recent discussion of Marx's views is R. S. Wistrich, "Karl Marx and the Jewish Question", Soviet-Jewish Affairs, vol. IV, No. 1 (Spring 1974), pp. 53-60, which contains copious documentation. See, especially, Arthur Prinz., "New Perspectives on Marx as a Jew" Leo Baeck Year Book (1970), pp. 107-25; it includes the revealing text of a letter by Heinrich Graetz, the Jewish historian and a friend of Marx.

3. Marx/Engels, The Holy Family (1845; Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1956), p.148.

4. Neue Rheinische Zeitung (No. 285 Sunday 29 April 1849), p. 1, col. 1. Marx was probably the author of the article. The Unknown Karl Marx; Documents concerning Karl Marx (ed. R. Payee. 1972), pp.14-15.

5. A small colony of Bambergers can be traced in the City of London during the mid-1850s, based on King Street, Snowhill. Zacharias Bamberger (of 19 King Street, ship and commission agents) was a partner in the firm of Prager & Bamberger, 84 Lower Thomas Street, while Louis Bamberger and Co., merchants, and Abraham Bamberger & Co., wholesale boot manufacturers, both operated from 20 King Street., Snowhill. See: Kelly & Co., Post Office London Directory (1855), p. 813. Of these Zacharias Bamberger seems most likely to have been Marx's money-lender.

6. See Marx to Engels, 31 July 1851, in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii, Vol. I, p. 224; and 21 January 1852, p. 444.

7. For example: "Spielmann always sends one away with the nasal Jewish remark 'Kaine Nootiz da' [i.e. Keine Notiz da]": Marx to Engels, 18 August 1853 in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii, Vol. 1. p.˜492. The word Yiddish, used to describe this form of speech, is noted as first appearing in print in English in the mid-1880s (Oxford English Dictionary).

8. Marx to Engels, 21 September 1859, in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii, Vol. 2, p. 416.

9. Gustav Mayer, Der Briefwechsel zwischen Lassalle und Marx, Vol. 3 of Ferdinand Lassalle: Nachgelassene Briefe und Schriften (first edition 1922; new edition issued by the Historical Commission of the Bavarian Academy of Science, 1967).

10. Marx to Engels, 30 July 1862, in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii. Vol. 3, pp. 82-84. On Marx as "at once a racialist himself and the cause of racialism in others", see George Watson, The English Ideology (1973), p. 211.

11. Jenny Marx to Engels, 9 April 1858, in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii. Vol. 2, p. 314. See also the malicious and anti-Semitic gossip about Moses and Sybille Hess, in Marx to Engels, 22 September 1856, Part iii, Vol. 2, p. 147.

12. Marx to Engels, 10 February 1865 ("Jud Horn") and 14 November 1868 ("Rabbi A Einhorn generally known by the name of A. E. Horn") in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii, Vol. 3, p.232; and Vol. 4, p. 124.

13. Marx to Engels, 14 April and 8 July 1870 ("little Jew Leo Frankel") in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii, Vol. 4, pp. 302, 338.

14. Marx to Engels, 21 August 1875, in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii, Vol. 4, pp. 428-9.

15. Marx to Engels, 25 August 1879 in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii, Vol. 4, p.490.

16. Reprinted in Karl Marx, The Eastern Question (ed. by Eleanor Marx & Edward Aveling, 1897: new ed. 1969). pp. 600-606.

16a. See, for example, Edward von Mueller-Tellering, Vorgeschmack in die kuenftige deutsche Diktatur von Marx und Engels (1850).

17. For the attitude of socialists to the Jews, see E. Silberner, Sozialisten zur Judenfrage (1962) and George Lichtheim, "Socialism and the Jews" in Dissent (New York), July-August 1968.

18. Karl Marx, "Zur Judenfrage", in the Deutsch Franzoesische Jahrbuecher (1844), reprinted in Marx/Engels, Werke, Vol. 1 (1964), pp, 347-77. See also, Marx/Engels, The Holy Family (Moscow, 1965), pp.149-150.

19. Engels to a correspondent in Vienna, 19 April 1890, in Marx/Engels, Werke, Vol. XXII, p. 49. See, however, Engels' 1892 preface to the London edition of his Condition of the Working Class in England (1845), where he refers to "the pettifogging business tricks of the Polish Jew, the representative: in Europe of commerce at its lowest stage" (p. 360 in 1971 edition by Henderson & Chaloner).

20. Engels to Bernstein, 17 August 1881, in Eduard Bernsteins Briefwechsel mit Friedrich Engels (ed. Hirsch, 1970), pp. 28-29. Bernstein to Engels, 9 September 1881: Briefwechsel, p. 37. Engels to Bebel. 1 December 1891, in August Bebels Briefwechsel mit Friedrich Engels (ed. Blumenberg, 1965), p. 487.

21. Engels to Marx, 24 September 1852, in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii. Vol. 1, p. 405.

22. Engels to Marx, 7 March 1856 in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii, Vol. 2, p. 122. English translation: Engels: Selected Writings (ed. Henderson. Penguin, 1967), pp. 129-30.

23. Engels to Carl Siebel, 4 June 1862, in Friedrich Engels Profile (ed. Hirsch, 1970) p. 250.

24. Engels to Marx, 2 November 1864, in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii, Vol. 3, p. 192.

25. Engels to Marx, 11 October 1867 and 6 May 1868, in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii, Vol. 3. p. 432 and Vo1. 4, p. 52. It has not proved possible to identify Choras further.

26. Engels to Marx, 15 April 1870, in Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe , Part iii, Vol. 4, p. 305.

27. Engels to Paul Lafargue, 22 July 1892, in F.Engels - Paul and Laura Lafargue: Correspondence (Moscow). Vol. iii, 1891-95, p.˜184.

28. Engels to Pau1 Ernst, 5 June 1890, in Engels Profile, p. 190.

29. Engels to Laura Lafargue, 27 October 1893, in Engels-Lafargue: Correspondence, Vol iii, 1891?95, p.307.

30. Engels, Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigentums und des Staates (1884: new ed., 1962), p.96. English translation: Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (Moscow), p. 159. Engels' book was based upon Lewis Henry Morgan, Ancient Society, or Researches in the Line of Human Progress from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilisation (1877). Engels also made use of the notes which Karl Marx had made (probably in the winter of 1880-1) on Morgan's book, The Ethnological Notebooks of Karl Marx (ed. Lawrence Krader, 1972).

31. For selections of articles and letters written by Marx and Engels on colonisation, see Marx/Engels, On Colonisation (Moscow) and The First Indian War of Independence, 1857-1859 (Moscow; London, 1960).

32. Engels, "Der magyarische Kampf" and "Der demokratische Panslavismus", in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 13 January and 15 February 1849; reprinted in Karl Marx/Engels Werke, Vol. VI p. 165 ff. P. W. Blackstock and B. F. Hoselitz have translated and edited a useful anthology of these in Marx/Engels, The Russian Menace to Europe (1952). Pages 56-9, and 241 are important for "peoples without a history."

Monday, January 29, 2007

Note the open avowal of terrorism

"As for slavery, there is no need for me to speak of its bad aspects. The only thing requiring explanation is the good side of slavery. I do not mean indirect slavery, the slavery of proletariat; I mean direct slavery, the slavery of the Blacks in Surinam, in Brazil, in the southern regions of North America. Direct slavery is as much the pivot upon which our present-day industrialism turns as are machinery, credit, etc. … Slavery is therefore an economic category of paramount importance."
- Karl Marx
(Letter to Pavel Vasilyevich Annenkov, December 28, 1846)

"… the very cannibalism of the counterrevolution will convince the nations that there is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror."
- Karl Marx
("The Victory of the Counter-Revolution in Vienna," Neue Rheinische Zeitung, November 7, 1848)

"All the other large and small nationalities and peoples are destined to perish before long in the revolutionary world storm… these residual fragments of peoples always become fanatical standard-bearers of counter-revolution and remain so until their complete extirpation or loss of their national character… [A general war will] wipe out all these petty hidebound nations, down to their very names. The next world war will result in the disappearance from the face of the earth not only of reactionary classes and dynasties, but also of entire reactionary peoples. And that, too, is a step forward."
- Friedrich Engels
("The Magyar Struggle,"
Neue Rheinische Zeitung, January 13, 1849)

"… only by the most determined use of terror against these Slav peoples can we [Germans], jointly with the Poles and Magyars, safeguard the revolution… there will be a struggle, an ‘inexorable life-and-death struggle,’ against those Slavs who betray the revolution; an annihilating fight and ruthless terror - not in the interests of Germany, but in the interests of the revolution!"
- Friedrich Engels
("Democratic Pan-Slavism, Cont.,"
Neue Rheinische Zeitung, February 16, 1849)

"We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror."
- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
("Suppression of the
Neue Rheinische Zeitung," Neue Rheinische Zeitung, May 19, 1849)

"Psychologically, this talk of feeding the starving is nothing but an expression of the saccharine-sweet sentimentality so characteristic of our intelligentsia."
- V. I. Lenin
(Robert Conquest,
The Harvest of Sorrow [London: Arrow Books, 1988], p234)

"... whoever recognizes class war must recognize civil wars, which in any class society represent the natural and, in certain circumstances, inevitable continuation, development and sharpening of class war."
- V. I. Lenin
(Dmitri Volkogonov,
Lenin: Life and Legacy [London: HarperCollins, 1994], p196)

"Until we apply terror to speculators - shooting on the spot - we won’t get anywhere."
- V. I. Lenin
(George Leggett,
The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], p55)

"Let them shoot on the spot every tenth man guilty of idleness."
- V. I. Lenin
(George Leggett,
The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], p55)

"Surely you do not imagine that we shall be victorious without applying the most cruel revolutionary terror?"
- V. I. Lenin
(George Leggett,
The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], p57)

"You can tell Ter [a local Cheka commander] that if there is an offensive, he must make
all preparations to burn Baku down totally, and this should be announced in print in Baku."
- V. I. Lenin
(Dmitri Volkogonov,
Lenin: Life and Legacy [London: HarperCollins, 1994], p202)

"Merciless war against these kulaks! Death to them!"
- V. I. Lenin
(Dmitri Volkogonov,
Lenin: Life and Legacy [London: HarperCollins, 1994], p197)

"... carry out merciless mass terror against the kulaks, priests and White Guards; unreliable elements to be locked up in a concentration camp outside the town."
- V. I. Lenin
(George Leggett,
The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], p103)

"I am confident that the suppression of the Kazan Czechs and White Guards, and likewise of the bloodsucking kulaks who support them, will be a model of mercilessness."
- V. I. Lenin
(George Leggett,
The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], p119)

"When we are reproached with cruelty, we wonder how people can forget the most elementary Marxism."
- V. I. Lenin
(Robert Conquest,
The Human Cost of Soviet Communism [Washington: Committee on the Judiciary, US Senate, 91st Congress, 2nd Session, 1970], p10)

"... catch and shoot the Astrakhan speculators and bribe-takers. These swine have to be dealt [with] so that everyone will remember it for years."
- V. I. Lenin
(Dmitri Volkogonov,
Lenin: Life and Legacy [London: HarperCollins, 1994], p201)

"Russians are too kind, they lack the ability to apply determined methods of revolutionary terror."
- V. I. Lenin
(Dmitri Volkogonov,
Lenin: Life and Legacy [London: HarperCollins, 1994], p203)

"Dictatorship is rule based directly on force and unrestricted by any laws. The revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat is rule won and maintained through the use of violence by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, rule that is unrestricted by any laws."
- V. I. Lenin
(Stephan Courtois, "Conclusion," in
The Black Book of Communism, ed. Stephane Courtois [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999], p741)

"I come to the inescapable conclusion that we must now launch the most decisive and merciless battle against the Black Hundreds clergy and crush their resistance with such ferocity that they will not forget it for several decades... The bigger the number of reactionary clergy and reactionary bourgeois we manage to shoot in the process, the better."
- V. I. Lenin
(Dmitri Volkogonov,
Trotsky: The Eternal Revolutionary [London: HarperCollins, 1996], p227)

"But couldn’t this correlation [of political and social forces] be altered? Say, through the subjection or extermination of some classes of society?"
- Feliks Dzerzhinsky
(George Leggett,
The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], p252)

"Do not believe that I seek revolutionary forms of justice. We don’t need justice at this point... I propose, I demand, the organization of revolutionary annihilation against all active counterrevolutionaries."
- Feliks Dzerzhinsky
(Michel Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich,
Utopia in Power: A History of the USSR From 1917 to the Present [London: Hutchinson, 1986], p54)

"[The Red Terror involves] the extermination of enemies of the revolution on the basis of their class affiliation or of their pre-revolutionary roles."
- Feliks Dzerzhinsky
(George Leggett,
The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], p114)

"In not more than a month’s time terror will assume very violent forms, after the example of the great French Revolution; the guillotine... will be ready for our enemies... that remarkable invention of the French Revolution which makes man shorter by a head."
- Leon Trotsky
(George Leggett,
The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], p54)

"Root out the counterrevolutionaries without mercy, lock up suspicious characters in concentration camps... Shirkers will be shot, regardless of past service..."
- Leon Trotsky
(Dmitri Volkogonov,
Trotsky: The Eternal Revolutionary [London: HarperCollins, 1996], p213)

"We have to run a hot iron down the spine of the Ukrainian kulaks - that will create a good working environment."
- Leon Trotsky
(Dmitri Volkogonov,
Trotsky: The Eternal Revolutionary [London: HarperCollins, 1996], p183)

"As for us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the ‘sacredness of human life.’"
- Leon Trotsky
Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky [London: New Park Publications, 1975], p82)

"The Red Terror is a weapon utilized against a class, doomed to destruction, which does not wish to perish... the Red Terror hastens the destruction of the bourgeoisie."
- Leon Trotsky
Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky [London: New Park Publications, 1975], p83)

"... the road to socialism lies through a period of the highest possible intensification of the principle of the state… Just as a lamp, before going out, shoots up in a brilliant flame, so the state, before disappearing, assumes the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the most ruthless form of state, which embraces the life of the citizens authoritatively in every direction..."
- Leon Trotsky
Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky [London: New Park Publications, 1975], p177)

"... the very principle of labour conscription has replaced the principle of free labour as radically and irreversibly as socialization of the means of production has replaced capitalist ownership."
- Leon Trotsky
(Dmitri Volkogonov,
Trotsky: The Eternal Revolutionary [London: HarperCollins, 1996], pp216-7)


Monday, May 16, 2005

"I have allowed myself to be persuaded by the arguments of my brother-in-law [Emil Blank] and the doleful expression on both my parents’ faces to give huckstering another trial and for [...] days have been working in the office. Another motive was the course my love affair was taking. But I was sick of it all even before I began work; huckstering is too beastly, Barmen is too beastly, the waste of time is too beastly and most beastly of all is the fact of being, not only a bourgeois, but actually a manufacturer, a bourgeois who actively takes sides against the proletariat. A few days in my old man’s factory have sufficed to bring me face to face with this beastliness, which I had rather overlooked. I had, of course, planned to stay in the huckstering business only as long as it suited me and then to write something the police wouldn’t like so that I could with good grace make off across the border, but I can’t hold out even till then."


Monday, May 02, 2005
I expect that this will be the last post on this blog for a while but readers with interesting quotes are welcome to send them in for possible posting.


The summary below accords with my reading of Marx. He hated everybody and that angry hatred has always been his chief attraction to Leftists. They instinctively recognize in him a kindred spirit.

"Karl Marx was the foremost hater and most incessant whiner in the history of Western Civilization. He was a spoiled, overeducated brat who never grew up; he just grew more shrill as he grew older. His lifelong hatred and whining have led to the deaths (so far) of perhaps a hundred million people, depending on how many people perished under Mao’s tyranny. We will probably never know.

Whiners, if given power, readily become tyrants. Marx was seen by his contemporaries as a potential tyrant. Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-72), the Italian revolutionary, and a rival of Marx’s in the International Workingmen’s Association in the mid- 1860’s, once described Marx as “a destructive spirit whose heart was filled with hatred rather than love of mankind . . . extraordinarily sly, shifty and taciturn. Marx is very jealous of his authority as leader of the Party; against his political rivals and opponents he is vindictive and implacable; he does not rest until he has beaten them down; his overriding characteristic is boundless ambition and thirst for power. Despite the communist egalitarianism which he preaches he is the absolute ruler of his party; admittedly he does everything himself but he is also the only one to give orders and he tolerates no opposition"

Source (PDF)

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Written in 1872

The reasoning of Marx ends in absolute contradiction. Taking into account only the economic question, he insists that only the most advanced countries, those in which capitalist production has attained greatest development, are the most capable of making social revolution. These civilized countries, to the exclusion of all others, are the only ones destined to initiate and carry through this revolution. This revolution will expropriate either by peaceful, gradual, or by violent means, the present property owners and capitalists. To appropriate all the landed property and capital, and to carry out its extensive economic and political programs, the revolutionary State will have to be very powerful and highly centralized. The State will administer and direct the cultivation of the land, by means of its salaried officials commanding armies of rural workers organized and disciplined for this purpose. At the same time, on the ruins of the existing banks, it will establish a single state bank which will finance all labor and national commerce.

It is readily apparent how such a seemingly simple plan of organization can excite the imagination of the workers, who are as eager for justice as they are for freedom; and who foolishly imagine that the one can exist without the other; as if, in order to conquer and consolidate justice and equality, one could depend on the efforts of others, particularly on governments, regardless of how they may be elected or controlled, to speak and act for the people! For the proletariat this will, in reality, be nothing but a barracks: a regime, where regimented workingmen and women will sleep, wake, work, and live to the beat of a drum; where the shrewd and educated will be granted government privileges; and where the mercenary-minded, attracted by the immensity of the international speculations of the state bank, will find a vast field for lucrative, underhanded dealings.

There will be slavery within this state, and abroad there will be war without truce, at least until the “inferior” races, Latin and Slav, tired of bourgeois civilization, no longer resign themselves to the subjection of a State, which will be even more despotic than the former State, although it calls itself a People’s State.

Context here

Saturday, April 30, 2005

I have now finished the quotes from Marx that I wanted to put up but I still have a few quotes about Marx from others that may be of interest:


Written when Karl was still only 19. Heinrich seems to have been a decent and generous guy. It must have pained him greatly to see how his son turned out.

Letter from Heinrich Marx to son Karl, written in Trier, March 2, 1837: "It is remarkable that I, who am by nature a lazy writer, become quite inexhaustible when I have to write to you. I will not and cannot conceal my weakness for you. At times my heart delights in thinking of you and your future. And yet at times I cannot rid myself of ideas which arouse in me sad forebodings and fear when I am struck as if by lightning by the thought: is your heart in accord with your head, your talents? Has it room for the earthly but gentler sentiments which in this vale of sorrow are so essentially consoling for a man of feeling? And since that heart is obviously animated and governed by a demon not granted to all men, is that demon heavenly or Faustian? Will you ever -- and that is not the least painful doubt of my heart -- will you ever be capable of truly human, domestic happiness? Will -- and this doubt has no less tortured me recently since I have come to love a certain person [Jenny von Westfalen] like my own child -- will you ever be capable of imparting happiness to those immediately around you?

What has evoked this train of ideas in me, you will ask ? Often before, anxious thoughts of this kind have come into my mind, but I easily chased them away, for I always felt the need to surround you with all the love and care of which my heart is capable, and I always like to forget. But I note a striking phenomenon in Jenny. She, who is so wholly devoted to you with her childlike, pure disposition, betrays at times, involuntarily and against her will, a kind of fear, a fear laden with foreboding, which does not escape me, which I do not know how to explain, and all trace of which she tried to erase from my heart, as soon as I pointed it out to her. What does that mean, what can it be? I cannot explain it to myself, but unfortunately my experience does not allow me to be easily led astray.

Context here

Friday, April 29, 2005

Engels to August Bebel In Berlin, 19 September, 1891: "In any case we must declare that since 1871 we have always been ready for a peaceful understanding with France, that as soon as our Party comes to power it will be unable to exercise that power unless Alsace-Lorraine freely determines its own future, but that if war is forced upon us, and moreover a war in alliance with Russia, we must regard this as an attack on our existence and defend ourselves by every method, utilising all positions at our disposal and therefore Metz and Strasbourg also..... so our army will have to lead and sustain the main push.... So much seems certain to me: if we are beaten, every barrier to chauvinism and a war of revenge in Europe will be thrown down for years hence. If we are victorious our Party will come into power. The victory of Germany is therefore the victory of the revolution, and if it comes to war we must not only desire victory but further it by every means...."

Context here

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Engels, London, December 15, 1887: “. . . No war is any longer possible for Prussia-Germany except a world war and a world war indeed of an extent and violence hitherto undreamt of. Eight to ten millions of soldiers will massacre one another and in doing so devour the whole of Eurepe until they have stripped it barer than any swarm of locusts has ever done. The devastations of the Thirty Years’ War compressed into three or four years, and spread over the whole Continent; famine, pestilence, general demoralisation both of the armies and of the mass of the people produced by acute distress; hopeless confusion of our artificial machinery in trade, industry and credit, ending in general bankruptcy; collapse of the old states and their traditional state wisdom to such an extent that crowns will roll by dozens on the pavement and there will be no body to pick them up; absolute impossibility of foreseeing how it will all end and who will come out of the struggle as victor; only one result is absolutely certain: general exhaustion and the establishment of the conditions for the ultimate victory of the working class.

“This is the prospect when the system of mutual outbidding in armaments, taken to the final extreme, at last bears its inevitable fruits. This, my lords, princes and statesmen, is where in your wisdom you have brought old Europe. And when nothing more remains to you but to open the last great war dance—that will suit us all right (uns kann es recht sein ). The war may perhaps push us temporarily into the background, may wrench from us many a position already conquered. But when you have unfettered forces which you will then no longer be able again to control, things may go as they will: at the end of the tragedy you will be ruined and the victory of the proletariat will either be already achieved or at any rate (doch ) inevitable".

Some context here

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

And Hitler again waged exactly the war that Marx predicted

Marx, SECOND ADDRESS On The War To the Members of the International Working-Men’s Association, 1870: "If the fortune of her arms, the arrogance of success, and dynastic intrigue lead Germany to a spoliation of French territory, there will then only remain two courses open to her. She must at all risks become the avowed tool of Russian aggrandisement, or, after some short respite, make again ready for another “defensive” war, not one of those new-fangled “localised” wars, but a war of races — a war with the combined Slavonian and Roman races".

Context here

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I guess Hitler got that message too

Marx to Engels, July 20, 1870: "The French need a thrashing. If the Prussians win, the centralisation of the state power will be useful for the centralisation of the German working class. German predominance would also transfer the centre of gravity of the workers' movement in Western Europe from France to Germany, and one has only to compare the movement in the two countries from 1866 till now to see that the German working class is superior to the French both theoretically and organisationally. Their predominance over the French on the world stage would also mean the predominance of our theory over Proudhon's, etc."

Context here

Monday, April 25, 2005

And Hitler carried it out

Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 42, July 12, 1848: "Only a war against Russia would be a war of revolutionary Germany, a war by which she could cleanse herself of her past sins, could take courage, defeat her own autocrats, spread civilisation by the sacrifice of her own sons as becomes a people that is shaking off the chains of long, indolent slavery"

It is not clear whether it was Marx or Engels that wrote this. Context here

Sunday, April 24, 2005

As did many others in the 19th and early 20th centuries -- including Mussolini, Hitler and "Progressive" U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt

Marx, Sept 24, 1855: "The redeeming feature of war is that it puts a nation to the test. As exposure to the atmosphere reduces all mummies to instant dissolution, so war passes supreme judgment upon social systems that have outlived their vitality".

(Full context for this quote does not appear to be available online but it is mentioned in various places on the net -- e.g. here. See also Collected Works, vol. 14, p. 516)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Marx's second daughter, Laura, married Paul Lafargue who, Engels said, had "one eighth or one twelfth Nigger blood". In 1887, Paul was a candidate for the Paris Municipal Council, in a district which contained the Jardin des Plantes and the Zoo. In a letter to Laura (April 26, 1887), Engels referred to:

"Paul, the candidate of the Jardin des Plantes - and the animals" and added: "Being in his quality as a nigger a degree nearer to the rest of the animal kingdom than the rest of us, he is undoubtedly the most appropriate representative of that district."

This letter (in German translation) is in Marx & Engels Werke vol. 36, 1967, p. 645. It is not online but is mentioned here

Friday, April 22, 2005

Letter from Engels to Marx, October 2, 1866: "I have arrived at the conviction that there is nothing to his [Tremaux's] theory if for no other reason than because he neither understands geology nor is capable of the most ordinary literary historical criticism. One could laugh oneself sick about his stories of the nigger Santa Maria and of the transmutations of the whites into Negroes. Especially, that the traditions of the Senegal niggers deserve absolute credulity, just because the rascals cannot write! . . . Perhaps this man will prove in the second volume, how he explains the fact, that we Rhinelanders have not long ago turned into idiots and niggers on our own Devonian Transition rocks . . . Or perhaps he will maintain that we are real niggers."

(Not fully online. Source: Quoted by Diane Paul, "'In the Interests of Civilization': Marxist Views of Race and Culture in the Nineteenth Century", Journal of the History of Ideas, Jan-March 1981, p 123. [Werke, Vol. 31, p 256.])

Note that Engels uses both the neutral term "negroes" and the derogatory "nigger". So he clearly knew what the different implications of the two terms were. "Nigger" was not as verboten in the 19th century as it is now but it was still derogatory -- and it is presumably because of that aspect of the word that both Marx and Engels used what is after all an English word in their German writings.

To undersrtand what Engels was talking about, one needs to realize that both Marx and Engels were Lamarckians -- they believed that acquired characteristics could be inherited. That fact is no doubt part of the reason why Stalin so heavily sponsored the ideas of the Lamarckian Trofim Lysenko right into the 20th century -- long after Lamarckian theories had been generally discredited in the West. And the particular strand of Lamarckian thinking that appealed most strongly to both Marx and Engels was that the type of soil and landscape in which a nation grew up could influence their national character. Just what the relationship between geology and national characteristics was, however, they did not fully agree. The following commentary on the matter may also be helpful:

To cite one final anecdote, the scholarly literature frequently cites Marx's great enthusiasm (until the more scientifically savvy Engels set him straight) for a curious book, published in 1865 by the now (and deservedly) unknown French explorer and ethnologist Pierre Tremaux, Origine et transformations de l'homme et des autres etres (Origin and transformation of man and other beings). Marx professed ardent admiration for this work, proclaiming it "einen Fortschritt uber Darwin" (an advance over Darwin). The more sober Engels bought the book at Marx's urging, but then dampened his friend's ardor by writing: "I have arrived at the conclusion that there is nothing to his theory if for no other reason than because he neither understands geology nor is capable of the most ordinary literary historical criticism."

I had long been curious about Tremaux and sought a copy of his book for many years. I finally purchased one a few years ago--and I must say that I have never read a more absurd or more poorly documented thesis. Basically, Tremaux argues that the nature of the soil determines national characteristics and that higher civilizations tend to arise on more complex soils formed in later geological periods. If Marx really believed that such unsupported nonsense could exceed the Origin of Species in importance, then he could not have properly understood or appreciated the power of Darwin's facts and ideas.

More here

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Letter from Marx to Pavel Vasilyevich Annenkov, 1846: "As for slavery, there is no need for me to speak of its bad aspects. The only thing requiring explanation is the good side of slavery. I do not mean indirect slavery, the slavery of proletariat; I mean direct slavery, the slavery of the Blacks in Surinam, in Brazil, in the southern regions of North America.

Direct slavery is as much the pivot upon which our present-day industrialism turns as are machinery, credit, etc. Without slavery there would be no cotton, without cotton there would be no modern industry. It is slavery which has given value to the colonies, it is the colonies which have created world trade, and world trade is the necessary condition for large-scale machine industry. Consequently, prior to the slave trade, the colonies sent very few products to the Old World, and did not noticeably change the face of the world. Slavery is therefore an economic category of paramount importance. Without slavery, North America, the most progressive nation, would he transformed into a patriarchal country. Only wipe North America off the map and you will get anarchy, the complete decay of trade and modern civilisation. But to do away with slavery would be to wipe America off the map. Being an economic category, slavery has existed in all nations since the beginning of the world. All that modern nations have achieved is to disguise slavery at home and import it openly into the New World"

Context here

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Engels to Paul Lafargue, July 22, 1892: "I begin to understand French anti-Semitism when I see how many Jews of Polish origin and with German names intrude themselves everywhere, arrogate everything to themselves and push themselves forward to the point of creating public opinion in the ville lumiere [Paris], of which the Paris philistine is so proud and which he believes to be the supreme power in the universe."

(Not online but found in Frederick Engels, Paul and Laura Lafargue, Correspondence, Vol iii, Moscow. p 184.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1886 Appendix to the American Edition: "The pettifogging business-tricks of the Polish Jew, the representative in Europe of commerce in its lowest stage, those tricks that serve him so well in his own country, and are generally practiced there, he finds to be out of date and out of place when he comes to Hamburg or Berlin"

Context here

Monday, April 18, 2005

Marx, New-York Daily Tribune, June 25, 1853: "England, it is true, in causing a social revolution in Hindoostan, was actuated only by the vilest interests, and was stupid in her manner of enforcing them. But that is not the question. The question is, can mankind fulfil its destiny without a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia? If not, whatever may have been the crimes of England she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about that revolution".

Context here