The Western Socialist
Vol. 27 - No. 214
No. 3, 1960
In response to the article, "A World Without Jews" (The Western Socialist No. 1, 1960) criticising a book of the same name, we have received the following letter:
World Socialist Party of the U. S.
Thank you for sending me a copy of your periodical containing a review of the booklet "A World Without Jews." It has been quite some time since I could still be shocked at a refusal of organizations, groups or individuals to place facts and reason above personal prejudices and personal involvement.
The World Socialist Party is deeply involved in Marxism and will therefore attempt, through its spokesmen — or penmen — to refute any charge against Karl Marx, regardless of fact or fancy.
I published the booklet "A World Without Jews" for only one reason — namely, to drive a wedge between some gullible Jewish people and the various Marxist denominations. I intended to open the eyes of my people to the little known fact that Marx was a rabid anti-Semite; and that for this, if for no other reason, they should shun Marxism in all its implications.
I am satisfied to state that the sales of this small book have gone into tens of thousands all over the globe, and have had a resounding cleansing effect upon the minds of my people.
In your review of my booklet there is a lot of discussion about everything except the main issue, namely, the Jew hatred of Karl Marx.
I have collected 108 statements by Karl Marx from his correspondence, his books, his conversations with contemporaries — and all of them, my dear comrade, are viciously, malevolently anti-Semitic.
For the sake of the present argument I will take no recourse to those Marxian epithets, but rather restrict myself to the few that appear in the booklet "A World Without Jews."
Below you will find some of Karl Marx's references to Jews, quoted verbatim:
"It is the circumvention of law that makes the religious Jew a religious Jew." (Die Deutsche Ideologie, MEGA V, 162)
"The Jews of Poland are the smeariest of all races." (Neue Rheinische Zeitung, April 29, 1849)
He called Ferdinand Lassalle, "Judel Itzig-Jewish Nigger." (Der Judische Nigger, MEKOR III, 82, July 30, 1862)
"Ramsgate is full of Jews and fleas." (MEKOR IV, 490, August 25, 1879)
"Let us look at the real Jew of our time; not the Jew of the Sabbath, whom Bauer considers, but the Jew of everyday life.
"What is the Jew's foundation in our world? Material necessity, private advantage.
"What is the object of the Jew's worship in this world? Usury. What is his worldly god? Money.
"Very well then; emancipation from usury and money, that is, from practical, real Judaism, would constitute the emancipation of our time." ("A World Without Jews," p. 37)
"What was the essential foundation of the Jewish religion? Practical needs, egotism." (Ibid, p. 40)
"Money is the zealous one God of Israel, beside which no other God may stand. Money degrades all the gods of mankind and turns them into commodities. Money is the universal and self-constituted value set upon all things. It has therefore robbed the whole world, of both nature and man, of its original value. Money is the essence of man's life and work, which have become alienated from him. This alien monster rules him and he worships it.
"The God of the Jews has become secularized and is now a worldly God. The bill of exchange is the Jew's real God. His God is the illusory bill of exchange." ("A World Without Jews," p. 41)
I could quote ad nauseam from the other sources, but I will not do so because technically your book reviewer is entitled to be dealt with by the book he reviewed and not by other literature, even if such literature is from the sick mind of the same author.
If you have the courage to let your readers read what I am writing now, let them judge how little or how much difference there is between the profundity of Adolph Hitler and the debasement of Karl Marx.
Needless to emphasize that in the Soviet Union, especially in the Ukraine, attacks against the Jews of today run surprisingly close to the tracks of Karl Marx. Just as an aside your reviewer refers to me, with a straight face, as "a certain Dagobert D. Runes." Now look, I have written and edited more than twenty books in my time, and I doubt if any student of philosophy or social history has gone through college without the use of some of my works.
While I do understand that the reviewer may feel the need to cut down the size of the man he intends to attack, I strongly feel that the polemic tone of Communists and Socialists is quite reminiscent of Karl Marx's bad manners in areas of disagreement.
DAGOBERT D. RUNES
In the article mentioned above an effort was made to show Marx's purpose in writing his material on the Jewish question, emphasizing that Marx's interest was in emancipation for all mankind rather than for a section of mankind. That his treatment was not always gentle was not denied, but it was pointed out that Judaism was not singled out in this regard but that many of Marx's opponents (and some of his friends) had similarly felt the lash of his pen.
Marx lived and carried on his work barely half a century from the French revolution, at a time when Europe seethed in revolutionary ferment. His works were published under difficulty, sometimes interfered with by the authorities. He was exiled from his homeland. The greater part of his life was spent in poverty. He was subjected to a steady campaign of slander and misrepresentation. How many under similar conditions could have exercised the objectivity, patience and, clarity of thought that stand out so prominently in the great mass of his work?
Certainly not Runes. He lives, it is reasonable to assume, under conditions quite remote from the kind that harassed Marx. Yet, far from being able to use his favored circumstances to quietly examine, assess and discuss the mighty legacy of this nineteenth century thinker, he succeeds in finding nothing in Marx but a rabid, vicious, malevolent, debased and sick-minded Jew-baiter. Then, as an afterthought, he awards lumps to this writer for his bad manners in failing to be aware of the existence, stature and literary produce of Dagobert D. Runes!
Marx was opposed to Judaism. He was also opposed to Christianity and to religion, generally. To Marx religious organizations were preserved chiefly for their usefulness in helping to protect the dominant position of the ruling class. And he opposed all such agencies, both religious and nonreligious. But opposition to Judaism is not necessarily the same as anti-Semitism. To establish Marx as an anti-Semite it would obviously be necessary to point out the anti-Semitic activities he engaged in, the anti-Semitic organizations he sponsored or supported, the anti-Semitic works he wrote. It would be necessary, for example, to point to "The Communist Manifesto," "The Poverty of Philosophy," "The Critique of Political Economy," "Capital," to name only a few of his best-known works, and say these or some combination of these are proof of Marx's anti-Semitism. Runes doesn't do this. A very good reason why he doesn't is that he can't.
Then what does Runes do? He reproduces some of Marx's material on the Jewish question together with a few quotations or references. This material, embellished by Runes, provides the substance of his case. It will be noted in his letter that he ignores our previous comments. To these comments we add here a summary of Marx's treatment of the Jewish question written by Franz Mehring:
"What Marx achieved with this treatise was a twofold gain. He went to the very roots of the connection between society and the State. The State was not, as Hegel imagined, the reality of the moral idea, absolute reason and the absolute aim itself, and it had to content itself with the incomparably more modest task of presiding over the anarchy of bourgeois society which had enrolled it as watchman. This anarchy was the general struggle of man against man, of individual against individual, the universal war of all individuals, separated from each other only by their individuality, the general and unhindered movement of all the elementary forces released from their feudal fetters. It was actual slavery, although the individual seemed free and independent to himself, mistaking the unhindered movement of his alienated elements such as property, industry and religion for his own freedom, whereas in reality it represented his complete enslavement and alienation from humanity.
"And then Marx recognized that the religious questions of the day had no more than a social significance. He showed the development of Judaism not in religious theory, but in industrial and commercial practice which found a fantastic reflection in the Jewish religion. Practical Judaism is nothing but the fully-developed Christian world. As bourgeois society is of a completely commercial Jewish character the Jew necessarily belongs to it and can claim political emancipation just as he can claim the general rights of man. However, the emancipation of humanity is a new organization of the social forces, which will make man the master of those sources which give him life. Thus, in shadowy contours, we observe an outline of socialist society beginning to form." (Karl Marx," by Franz Mehring. Covici, Friede, New York, 1935, pages 100, 101.)
Since there is not unlimited space in which to deal with all the references to Jews attributed to Marx by Runes, let us consider then one that would appear to be the most unpleasant, Marx's description of Ferdinand Lassalle as a "Jewish nigger." It occurs in a letter by Marx to Engels. Marx is talking of his many financial difficulties. Then he writes:
"The Jewish nigger Lassalle, who fortunately leaves at the end of this week, has happily again lost 5,000 Thaler in a fraudulent speculation. The fellow would rather throw money in the dirt than make a loan to a 'friend' even if interest and capital are guaranteed. He acts on the view that he must live like a Jewish baron or baronised (probably via the Countess) Jew." (Letter dated July 30, 1862; Vol. 3, Marx-Engels Correspondence, German edition, page 82.)
That Marx was in a black mood when he wrote these words is obvious. That the mood was brought on by illness and concern over debts would be quite clear to anyone familiar with his life and works. That it is proof of anti-Semitism is ridiculous.
A sample of the manner in which Runes embellishes Marx is the following, taken from his book (pages vii, viii)
"The identification of Judaism with usury and exploitation of the masses, combined with an alleged secret master plan of the Jews with headquarters in Jerusalem to dominate the rest of the world, has been, and still is, the fundamental platform of political anti-Semitism."
No Marxist would quarrel with the first part of this quotation. But Runes combines it with something that can be found nowhere in the works of Marx. Anything can be proved in this way. The anti-Marxism of Runes, for example, could be combined with papal pronouncements to solidly establish Runes as a Roman Catholic!
And we have not here selected the weakest part of Rune's case. His case contains nothing greater. By attacking the villainies of Hitler, Stalin, Khrushchev, Nasser and other upholders of capitalism, he believes or pretends that he is attacking Marxism. That capitalism is a system inseparable from brutality, in which the Jews are seldom more than a small number of the victims, he shows no sign of awareness. Has he not heard of the Algerians, the Cypriots, the Negroes of various part of Africa and the United States, the Arabs of the Near East, and others whose trials are almost daily nectar to the newspapers ? And does he know nothing of the great mass of oppressed, starved and brutalized humanity overshadowing and cutting through all these groupings, including the Jews — the working class? Or would he try his hand at showing here the evil influence of Marx spreading beyond the persecution of the Jews? Or is he interested?
Another quotation from Rune's book follows (page viii):
"Today in Marxist Russia no Jewish magazine or newspaper may be published, no Jewish cultural center may function, no Jewish rituals may be publicly observed. No Jew may hold major public office or be a member of the Soviet parliament, and even harboring any expression of Zionist character is dealt with as a capital offense."
Without considering whether Runes is more dependable on Russia than he is on Marx, the inference will be noted in this quotation that the restraints which he says are now in effect have not always prevailed in modern Russia and that the Jews formerly had greater freedom. How can this changed situation be explained? There are some who would say that Russia was at one time Marxist but has drifted away from Marx. This explanation has the merit of being plausible. But it obviously does not fit the conception of Runes. How, then, does he explain it? He doesn't.
Runes supplements his efforts to discredit Marx by trying also to discredit Marx's translators and editors. He says, "It is interesting to note that most of Marx's anti-Semitic references, in his correspondences, his journalistic writings and his books, were entirely eliminated by his various editors." Why this should be so, since, according to Runes, they approved of his "anti-Semitism," he (as usual) does not try to explain. Nor does he try to prove his claim, except to say that his book contains "the first unexpurgated English language publication of Marx's answers to Bauer on the Jewish question — and this statement happens to be untrue.
Marx made two contributions to the Jewish question in the "German-French Yearbook" and three in "The Holy Family." The first two of these, but only one of the last three, are reproduced in Rune's book. All were previously available in English — "unexpurgated." The quotations from the "German-French Yearbook" used in our previous article were taken from the H. J. Stenning translation in "Selected Essays" of Karl Marx, published by Leonard Parsons, London, 1926. It remains to be added here that the version edited by Runes makes a completely unwarranted use of blackface [boldface] for emphasis.
Enough, we think, has been said to show that Rune's chief concern is to bury Marx beneath a thick coating of mud. His efforts should be comforting to the owning class.