Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

Karl Marx: The Greatest Intellectual Fraud of the 19th and 20th Centuries

An impressive new biography looks at the original Jewish leftist—and shines light on the appeal of radical politics for Jews

Print Email
Related Content

Cold Case

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union on March 29, 1951. Sixty years later, the case still crackles with controversy. Why is it so hard to put to rest?

The Plot Against England

Man Booker winner Howard Jacobson talks about English anti-Semitism, ping-pong, and the seriousness of Jewish jokes

At 15, sitting in the public library in suburban Atlanta, I eagerly drank in every word of Isaac Deutscher’s monumental three-volume biography of Leon Trotsky. Glossing over Trotsky’s ruthlessness, Deutscher extolled instead his unmatched courage and humane feeling for the masses. A few years later, back in the Northeast for college at NYU, I kibitzed with the Sparticists who hawked their crude newspaper outside Bobst Library. It was 1979, close to the tail end of the old radical Left, when the Rosenbergs were still innocent. My college girlfriend was a red-diaper baby, the daughter of communists. Soon I learned all there was to know about the battles between Alcove One (Trotskyist) and Alcove Two (Stalinist) at the CCNY cafeteria in the 1930s. Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were my favorite power couple. I got a work-study job at the People’s Coffee Counter at NYU Law School and even invented its motto: “You have nothing to lose but your change.”

In short, I was a teenage Red. I was no idiot: I didn’t believe a revolution was coming to the shores of America. But I basked nostalgically in what I foolishly thought was the glorious past of Trotskyite Bolshevism.

It took only a few more years before I became disillusioned with the radical slogans. Maybe it was Jesse Jackson announcing at a rally in the early 1980s that he had been to Cuba and knew that it was a true democracy. Or Edward Said, whose hostility to Israel troubled me, writing that the Marxist state of South Yemen was a model for the Middle East. But I also learned something else about Trotsky: During the Bolsheviks’ war on the peasantry, he was responsible for the deaths of millions of human beings. In the end, that was all that mattered.

Thoughts of my youthful enthusiasm for Marxism came back to me recently after seeing the U.K. Telegraph headline “I Want to Save the Capitalism my Father Hated.” The story concerned the clean-cut, rapidly rising Ed Miliband, who won the struggle with his brother David to become the head of Britain’s Labour Party and who might well become the country’s first Jewish Prime Minister since Disraeli. The brothers’ father, Ralph Miliband, was a renowned Marxist and Jewish refugee from the Nazis; he is buried a stone’s throw from Karl Marx in London’s Highgate Cemetery. Ed Miliband practices a mellower approach to capitalism. “The free market working properly” was Miliband’s version of what is to be done in his interview with the Telegraph. But, Miliband added, socialism will never die: It is “a tale that never ends.”

Miliband’s wish to cling to the vestiges of Marxism even as he extolls the free market is not unusual in our recession-plagued moment. Nicolas Sarkozy had himself been photographed reading Capital in the aftermath of the crash, and countless professors in the humanities and social sciences (though not, of course, countless economists) fly their Marxist colors proudly, even if they would never dream of abolishing private ownership or markets. In the rarified world of academic jargon, Marxism plays its role in an intellectual picnic that includes poststructuralist thinkers of every stripe. Being a classroom Marxist means talking about the uncanny character of the commodity form or the phantomlike digital age, tossing in a few scattered lines from Badiou and Žižek, and suggesting that our recent, world-shaking financial crisis proves the “relevance” of Marx—without explaining what makes Marx’s outdated economic theories and their accompanying intellectual apparatus relevant to the tremors of 21st-century capitalism. We might do better, instead, to begin at the beginning.

***

While anti-communist socialists far outnumbered communists among American Jews in the first half of the 20th century, it is also true that Jews embraced communism like no other ethnic or religious group in the country. The CUNY political scientist Jack Jacobs, who is editing a volume for Cambridge University Press based on last year’s YIVO conference on Jews and the Left, told me, “After the war, in 1949, the American Communist Party”—which probably numbered less than 50,000 members—“may have been as much as 50 percent Jewish.” What better way is there to understand the appeal of radical politics for Jews than to go back to the original Jewish leftist, Karl Marx? In an impressive new biography, the historian Jonathan Sperber focuses on Marx as a 19th-century thinker, a man of his time and place; and one of Sperber’s concerns is necessarily Marx’s Jewishness.

Strictly speaking, of course, Marx was not a Jew: His parents were converts to Protestantism, and he declared his atheism from an early age. In the infamous essay he wrote when he was 25, “On the Jewish Question,” Marx declared that society must be freed from Judaism, which he identified with capitalism: a huckstering entrepreneurial worship of the false god, money. At the same time, Marx advocated that Jews be granted civil rights—so that they could then be divested of their Jewishness and become fully assimilated. Marx’s letters are strewn with derogatory references to Jews; though Sperber tries to make the case that Marx “took a certain perverse pride” in his Jewish ancestry, he can’t muster much supporting evidence. What we see instead are a series of slurs that today would certainly be called anti-Semitic.

Sperber provides an affecting portrait of Marx the man, who was a devoted and enthusiastic father: With one of his daughters on his shoulders, he would play “cavalry” on Hampstead Heath, running to and fro. He was devastated for years by the death of his son Edgar at age 8. But Marx’s habits as polemicist and political organizer have decidedly less appeal. His writing style was a calamity: full of sometimes puerile vehemence, he heaped scorn on his opponents, inaugurating the long Marxist tradition of mercilessly deriding anyone with incorrect opinions. Marx displayed particular contempt for the high-living, dandyish Ferdinand Lassalle, a fellow socialist also of Jewish origin. In a letter to Engels, Marx mocked Lassalle, who supposedly had African ancestry, as a repulsive “combination of Jewry and Germanism with the negroid basic substance”; “the pushiness of this lad is also nigger-like,” he added. In Marx’s pamphlets, mudslinging abounds: His opponents are generally idiots, traitors, and scoundrels, but these heavy-handed insults tend to make us doubt Marx himself, since he relies so much on vituperation instead of reasoned argument.

Marx failed as a theorist too. As Sperber argues, Marx’s effort to derive the market price of goods from their value, the labor that went into them, was a vestige of the 19th-century economic theories of David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill (both of them arch-capitalists). By the time Marx died, economists had already given up trying to relate price to value and were beginning to understand that value was a chimera. With the growing dominance of technology, it had become impossible to locate value in the time required to produce goods, as Marx, following Ricardo and Mill, had tried to do. Machines can make products incredibly fast; but these products aren’t worth any less than if workers had spent days toiling at them, as Marx’s theory suggests.

1 2View as single page
Print Email

I was hoping for more on why Marx was a fraud.

Habbgun says:

This book Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders – The Golden Age – The Breakdown BY Leszek Kolakowski would be the place to start. It really gives an education. There is a three volume set that goes farther into Communist history but that is more than you need and goes well beyond Marx but into Marxist schools of thought.

Marx is very hard to critique in a small article. He was a shyster but he wasn’t stupid by a long shot. His main rhetorical device was to separate the state from the so-called people or society. The state is a repressive instrument while the people are a class with known needs and can be easily led by those with the know-how. When you are arrested by the state it is unjust simply because the state represents an economic system and not the masses. When the identical cops arrest you in Marx’s paradise its on behalf of the people and society and automatically just. Animal Farm was an allegory about the process but the outcome is a fixed point. The withering away of the state is not really a reality either. It is simply the belief that as the masses accept things as they are the state simply becomes less psychologically intrusive which is why re-education camps are so necessary and so brutal. No paradise while some are unconvinced they are in paradise.

pkbrandon says:

There’s a big difference between being a nasty person (although less so in the context of his time) and intellectually derivative (which he certainly was) and being a fraud.
I don’t see any evidence that he presented other’s ideas as his own, or fabricated evidence. He speculated, and while his speculations may have had value in stimulating the work of others, in hindsight they were not particularly accurate.
Of course, there was never a real world test of his economic theories, since he had predicted that the transition from capitalism to socialism would take place in an advanced capitalistic society like Germany, not a developing feudal society like the Soviet Union.

Lisa Liel says:

Converting out doesn’t make a Jew a non-Jew. Duh.

Ranen Omer-Sherman says:

What a singularly reductive attempt to grapple with complexity. Oddly, the author of this review (perhaps the book under discussion) evades the profound influence of Marx on the vision of the kibbutz, which accomplished so much and whose relevance may yet endure. And as far as the larger argument about the “triumph” of capitalism, many recognize that it too was a terribly flawed system that wreaks havoc on human life and the planet. And as others here have noted, the strangely formulated assertion of “fraud” remains unproved.

Chuck Morse says:

On the Jewish Question – Karl Marx, anti-Semitism and the War against the West by Chuck Morse
Link: http://amzn.com/B00BDFMG30

Doctor Whom says:

see http://www.profitandentropy.com

Supply-demand, free marketism is a theory of price stability. It has no theory of profit except as pricing inefficiency, which is the need to spend more currency to make a transaction successful than would simply recover value, which Marx correctly assessed as the cost-to-market of goods or services. The reviewer makes the common mistake of equating value with Buyer worth, which is a subjective estimation. Some products have much value — they are costly to produce — but not much worth to customers (like Microsoft stuff). Apple products succeed because of their perceived worth to customers, much of which has nothing to do with value, because as every ad-person knows, most of product worth is self-esteem, social status enhancement.
Marx’s problem was to identify profit as alienating the worker from the fruits of his/her labor, since owners “steal” the profits. The view of profit as evil is held over from medieval religion, which assigned filthy lucre to Jews to manage, leading to Goldman-Sachs, Geitner et al.
At profitandentropy.com, two old Jews try to update the relationship of economics to natural science, which has not changed since 1776. Understanding the relation of profit to increasing entropy makes humane and practical sense of what Marx, not a scientist any more than Adam Smith or Larry Summers, could understand.

Mike Shapiro says:

A fraud, sort of. Much of the economic theories that he espoused were based on data that was, very early, shown to be flawed.

So, basically, he was comfortable using erroneous information to prove the “correctness” of his doctrines. Whether this is really fraud or self delusion is a question best left to those with more expertise than me.

41953 says:

Is this supposed to be a book review? It does not deliver.

Habbgun says:

Yes and no. Market value does an excellent job of working the various unseen and to a single individual unknowable inputs that can make up a product. You don’t know the price of the components of an Apple Iphone and Apple probably doesn’t know anything about the commodity price of the raw materials in the components. Even if they tracked the commodity markets they still wouldn’t know at what price a particular raw material in their phones was priced at.

This is the common thread of command economies including liberal socialist ones. They assume they know too much about what value is and in the fluctuating world we live they find they know nothing but their own empty assumptions. Intellectuals see successful businessmen as simply street smart as opposed to the canny evaluators of market condition they often are. In fact economists are not known as particularly good investors, even those who agree with Capitalism.

Saint_Etienne says:

Well, why not? Converting in certainly does make a non-Jew into a Jew, so it stands to the reason that converting out would have the opposite effect. To go into more detail, I do concede that the convert-out himself might often be a sort of Schroedinger’s cat but certainly in the next generation there is not much Jewishness left.

Saint_Etienne says:

Not sure how this answers the question, but definitely read anything by Kolakowski.

Pesele says:

This review conflates many elements of Marx’s work with its later interpreters. Because Marxism really can be like a religion, complete with prophet and dogma, it’s tempting to dismiss his work in toto. But the work itself is more complex. Marx does a pretty good job of describing the unfettered capitalism of his time. Some of this work can be used to understand the relationship between multinational corporations and governments.
However, his single-minded focus on that expression of capitalism meant that he gave short shrift to other areas. He assume change happens only through conflict and that economics trumps all else. As a result, he more or less skips over the role of government and posits communism as an idea without any flesh on it. And he flat out doesn’t get religion–including Judaism and yeah, his work
on Jews is appalling (despite the fact that some of his writing reads
like the Prophets).
I carry no brief for Marx, but neither do I think his entire body of work should be dismissed, but like any thinker of great influence (and he is that–whatever one may think of the nature of that influence), looked at critically.

HalOrb says:

This so-called review is a piece of adolescent red-baiting trash by some one who
reveals his ignorance of history (especially German and enlightenment history),
economics or recent American political-economic writing. It would appear the
reviewer is in the thralls of another of his youthful teen-age enthusiasms which
he spends so much time telling us about as if this validates his knowledge of
Marx and Marxists. For an intelligent and accurate review of this book one
can turn to the recent review on the London Review of Books [http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n10/richard-j-evans/marx-v-the-rest] by Richard Evans and subsequent
letters in the next three issues.
I also find it offensive in a zine devoted to Jewish culture that you permitted
a previous comment to describe Marx as a “shyster.” Would you also allow
someone to refer to a person identified as a Jew as a “Christ-killer?”

genelevit says:

Marx tried to explain why human society becomes richer despite of the growth of population, why stocks on average increase their value and so on – something, no other economist even tried to do. He claimed that by using scientific (deterministic) methods he found the underlying reason for inequality and social injustice and how to overcome them. No one (except the reality) was able yet to refute his theory. Therefore his followers claim that his theory is absolutely correct and only its implementations (everywhere: in Russia, China, Cuba, etc) were wrong. Maybe that is why he is still so popular among materialists and “revolutionaries”. I wonder why socialists (also big “fighters for the equality and social justice”) didn’t embrace him.
The problem is that humans are not robots, determinism cannot determine their actions and therefore it is impossible to achieve equality among them and every effort to do that is a fight against the laws of nature which leads to more tragedies and calamities.

Garry Sklar says:

Karl Marx a Jew? Hardly. Are we community of blood or faith? Marx, a son of converted Jews had nothing Jewish about him except his ancestry. it is time for us to stop claiming every scoundrel who had some Jewish ancestry. Marxism has failed. Let’s get over him once and for all. let him rest in the proverbial Marxist dustbin of History where he belongs.

Doctor Whom says:

Yes and yes. I was referring to products that robots deliver, or to financial instruments that magnify profits without providing any cost-recovery, as having Buyer worth but no economic value. The reviewer blurs worth and value, as we see it at profitandentropy.com. I regret Habbgun is suspicious of intellectuals, but really it helps to be broadly educated especially in the sciences when dealing with broad issues. Canny evaluation is intuition, but intelligence requires reflection and deliberate thought.

Habbgun says:

Kolakowski never has a chapter specifically saying that Marx is a fraud but he does outline the clever ways Marx would show intellectual and “scientific” underpinnings to his work but purposefully squelch any opportunities for debate about his work. It was automatically established “truth”. It is the single outstanding point of Marxists even today. Marx would do this against both Capitalist writers and more importantly socialist ones that he considered competitors.

For instance most socialist schools of thought did not think socialism was historically inevitable but it was desirable. Therefore they believed in experimental communities, etc. Science is the systematic use of experiment and trial and error to achieve verifiable results. In this sense these schools were really scientific.

Marx merely asserted his socialism was inevitable due to his use of Hegel’s ideas (which are scientifically unprovable) and called his socialism, scientific and all other socialisms unscientific and therefore unrealistic and unworkable. Marxists only consider non-Marxist socialism a convenient way-station but without any more legitimacy than that.

Arguments of any kind against Marxism are never legitimate criticisms. They are anti-revolutionary agitprop and on and on and on. You can never isolate a single workable idea from Marxism and use it. It is always circular. Marxism is inevitable. For Marxism to work though Marxism must be fully put in place by revolutionaries (who are somehow not real people with free will but inevitable revolutionaries, unless we are not in a revolutionary period due to counter-revolutionary lies and agitprop) who will bring about the Marxist state that was inevitable anyway.

Marxists are designed to be impervious to facts. Stalin’s atrocities were well documented but until the USSR Itself admitted to it Communists all over the world considered it as if it didn’t exist and then went into intellectual crisis mode after the party made those facts “official”. Outside influences are wiped out in favor of the idea and the individual is continually purged of bad thoughts. As they say its a feature not a bug.

Also Marx realized that he was a philosopher pretending to be an economist so he went to the London School of Economics to build up his economic credibility. At that point Marxism became an even greater pseudo-science. Economic theories are proposed and disposed as needed and when proven unworkable Marxism suddenly becomes a philosophy again with those who don’t abide by Marxist theories being labeled counter-revolutionaries and not legitimate critics and so on.

Marxism means never having to say you’re sorry. You always get to say its your fault my ideas suck.

Binyamin says:

What an intellectually shallow piece of redbaiting drivel. This has all the trite tropes of the genre (à la http://www.newrepublic.com/article/books/the-deadly-jester): Marx was a vicious anti-Semite (obtuse reading, and relevant how?); I was a flaming Marxist in my youth (i.e. socialism = a youthful, idealistic, immature Weltanschauung); Trotsky and the Bolsheviks killed millions of people (a cheap, if implicit, assumption of the moral high ground); and leftist academics are charlatans (again, how is this relevant? If he has observed a few seminar leaders incoherently spew random bits of Zizek-Badiou and speak without any competence about the crises of capitalism, how does that discredit the theory/theorists themselves?)

PhillipNagle says:

Communism was a failure because economic system was (and is) a failure. Any Jew who has been close to Israel over the years knows that when Israel abandoned socialism its economy soared. The same can be said for Russia, China, India and eastern Europe. While most economies have not totally abandoned all their socialist parts (including the US), we have seen great strides where capitalism has replaced socialism. What the world needs is even freer economies.

runpacer says:

The Modern State of Israel was established by Labor Zionists, Socialists and Communists, all influenced by the writings of Marx and others.

Garry Sklar says:

Marx was born as a Protestant. He didn’t convert. His parents did and he was never raised as a Jew. He had no Jewish characteristics whatsoever, and did not share our faith which is the central tenet of being a Jew.

Lisa Liel says:

It may stand to reason, in your opinion, but it doesn’t work that way. Jewishness is something else entirely. I know a lot of people who are Jewish whose Jewishness is pretty meh, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re Jews. If your mother was Jewish or you had a valid conversion to Judaism, you are Jewish. You can become pope, and it doesn’t change that.

Lisa Liel says:

Judaism is Judaism, and being Jewish is being Jewish. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” A Jew who converts out remains Jewish.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

I agree. Had Marx realized that, he may have embraced his Jewish heritage and may have not gone off of the derech. Too many Jews are given the misconception that we are not a people and that G-d’s covenant promise does not remain. D’varim 32:8-9 quite specifically states that we are a people, and the covenant to Ya’akov remains to this day.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Marx was born a Jew, and his parents were Anusim.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Marx was a very-misguided man who was trying to find answers in the midst of rampant Anti Semitism and worker exploitation in the Industrial Revolution. David Mikics, I think, is trying to explain that Marx put himself on the wrong path–inventing a worldview instead of looking in answers in one that endured for good reason (be it, e.g., Judaism or true–i.e., Jewish–Christianity) did not help Marx.

genelevit says:

Well, if you think that we are bounded by the Jewish faith then you must believe in Torah. And Torah states that G-d made an agreement not only with those who were present at that time at Sinai but with all their descendants as well. In other words, if you think that we are bounded by our faith then you must to accept that we are bounded by our blood even more.

genelevit says:

It doesn’t matter what you think. Jews are chosen by G-d people. Humans have no power to become Jews or non-Jews on their own will.

Stephanie Barbé Hammer says:

I have to say a big thank you to the previous commenters, who have, for the most part, articulated more effectively than I can how disturbing I find this article. It’s as much a mistake to demonize Marx (a “fraud”? really?) as it is to make him into a saint. I am not as well-educated on Marxism as many of the other commentators (I’m the child of Republicans), but at the risk of sounding dumb I will say that part of the reason I chose Jewish identity was because of the proud lineage of leftists, rabble-rousers and activists who were and are Jewish. And, Communism bad for America? What about Emma Goldman?

Saint_Etienne says:

This means that nobody can become a Jew by conversion. Do you really mean it?

Saint_Etienne says:

Care to give examples?

Saint_Etienne says:

That would be interesting – do you have evidence for that?

Saint_Etienne says:

Fine, like I’ve said before, a convert-out certainly retains part of his Jewish identity. But what about his children? His grand-children? Their grand-children? Wouldn’t you agree that at some point down the line the Jewishness is just no longer there? Here’s an example – was Esau Jewish? His children? His grand-children? Were the Edomites, his descendants, Jewish?

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Ruth’s ethnicity didn’t change, for example, did it? She became a gerah tzedekah but not an Ethnic Israelite/Jew.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Google it–Herschel “Heinrich Marx” Mordechai could not become a lawyer unless he became Protestant. In fact, at around the same time, my maternal grandmother’s Siedenburg-Mueller great-great-grandparents had their daughter (Elizabetha “Betha” Mueller, later Elizabeth Pundt) baptized; Abraham Mendelssohn had his children baptized, and (in England) Isaac Disraeli had his children (including Benjamin) baptized. There are more examples that I could give (and ones that I don’t even know about, though I know that they’re out there). Keep in mind that the clime in Europe at the time was heavily Anti Semitic and Pseudo Christian, and that many Jews chose to become Anusim for the sake of assimilation–not because they were Messianic at all, although there was a growing Hebrew Christian movement at the time as well.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Maybe he didn’t believe that the data was flawed, though. Some people, even when one shows them evidence of what’s the truth of a matter, just can’t be convinced of anything but what they’d like to believe. Marx could be comparable to some of those those who honestly believe that, for example, that 9/11 was an inside job–just like some people honestly (for whatever reason) can’t believe like that were and are sick and perverse human beings like Usama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (yemach shemam), Marx could not be convinced that free marketeerism wasn’t evil in of itself.

Saint_Etienne says:

What does “ethnicity” mean anyway a biblical context? (It’s a 19th century construct). Ruth accepted Naomi’s God and Naomi’s people – what more could or should she have done to change her ethnicity?

And what about her children? Did they become “Ethnic Jews”? What about a certain great-grandson? I hope at least he was ethnic…

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Then how come there’s Jewish DNA, even a Cohen Modal Haplotype? One doesn’t have to be religiously or spiritually Jewish in order to be ethnically/physically Jewish. Besides, if a Jew doesn’t remain a Jew, then there’s no reason for G-d to have threatened to cut off (kill or exile) anyone who worships other gods, and even those who worshiped or have worshiped other gods–from Moloch and Asherah, to Vishnu and Krishna–still have had mercy promised on them and/or their descendants, and the promise that G-d would bring them back to Him and cleanse their iniquities. In fact, Ezekiel prophesied, “Then shall ye remember your evil ways, and your doings that were not good; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. Not for your sake do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you; be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord GOD: In the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be builded. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, whereas it was a desolation in the sight of all that passed by. “

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Alex Jones, for example–he’s an example of a “truther”, and he unfortunately has plenty of followers.

Saint_Etienne says:

Perhaps we have different definitions of Anusim – I assumed you meant Jews who converted under duress but secretly maintained some Jewish traditions and returned to Judaism when conditions allowed it (possibly after some generations).

What I’ve googled so far shows no evidence for Marx’s family fitting this definition: they converted under duress of a kind, but what traditions did they preseve? In what way did some member of the family return to Judaism? If you can produce positive answers to these two questions, you’ve proved they were Anusim. Otherwise, as far as I can tell they were just run-of-the-mill converts-out.

What wikipedia says about Marx’s father is:
“Heinrich Marx became a passionate Prussian patriot and monarchist who educated his family as liberal Lutherans.” This is given on no lesser authority than I.Berlin so I won’t be holding my breath very strongly for the evidence I’ve asked for. But perhaps – who knows?

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

“Ethnos” is actually an ancient Greek word meaning “people” or “nation”. By the way, I recommend J.R. Wilheim’s “The Truth About Matrilineal Descent”. While I myself think that Matrilineal Descent is just as Biblically valid, J.R. Wilhelm rightly points out, “Deuteronomy 7:3-4 most likely expresses no concern over a non-Israelite woman’s turning “your son” away not because such a child is not Jewish but because such a child is unquestionably Jewish.” and “There is no clear reason that Judaism has to be matrilineal, except that it has been so for many centuries.” In Biblical times, societies were mainly patriarchal. Also, man (Adam) came first and determines the gender of a child–so, as one could argue, Ruth’s ethnicity would not have mattered at all as to whether Oved, Yishai, and David were Jewish.

Saint_Etienne says:

1. Ain’t no such thing as Jewish DNA (or Russian DNA or French DNA, for that matter). As wikipedia makes clear: “One source of early confusion was a widespread popular notion that only
Cohens or only Jews could have the Cohen Modal Haplotype. It is now
clear that this is not the case.” To be sure, I’m not saying that haplotypes are bogus or irrelevant – they do indicate that the Jewish people was not “invented” as some would have it. But beyond that, haplotypes are best left out of such discussions – they can’t prove anything about a particular person and not all Jews and even not all priests have them.

2. Your second argument is interesting but I don’t think it’s conclusive. We cannot second-guess God’s will and intentions. Had He wanted to lay down the rule that converted-out Jews and their descendants remain Jews forever, this rule would have been explicitly given.

3. Your third argument, from Ezekiel, is apparently an attemt to locate jsut such an explicit rule in the Tanakh but imho you overinterpret this passage. It clearly addresses Jews as a collective, a people, and so cannot be applied automatically to a single person.

P.S.
What about the Edomites? Are they Jews or not?

Natan79 says:

Mr. Mikics, for over-rated hateful anti-Semitic intellectual, please don’t forget Noam Chomsky. He’s a one-man synthesis of Nazism, Holocaust denial and Communism.

Saint_Etienne says:

Actually I was asking Mike for examples of Marx knowingly using false data.

Natan79 says:

Communists didn’t do a thing for Israel. Zionists come from Theodor Herzl, not Karl Marx. To say they were influenced by an openly anti-Semitic imbecile like Marx is false and ridiculous.

Natan79 says:

The State of Israel does not consider a Christian to be a Jew. Your argument is nonsense.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

You’re now just arguing with Tanakh (cf. e.g., Deuteronomy 32:8-9, Ezekiel 36:31-34) and science at this point. Even gentile descents of Jews can have the CMH. We don’t have to like that Marx was Jewish and a Self-Hating Jew; and we can’t change Tanakh or science whether or not we want to do so.

Saint_Etienne says:

Well, I don’t accept genelevit’s argument but it takes more than an appeal to the authority of the State of Israel (of which I am a proud citizien) to refute that argument.

In other words: the State, with all dues respect, is not qualified to arbitrate sich questions. It makes laws to regulate the practical questions but these laws cannot be cited as religious arguments.

Natan79 says:

Try Communism and Islamism and see if they’re better than capitalism.

Natan79 says:

Anusim! That’s a lie. No one forced them to convert. You’ve been remarkable on this site for the evil lies your spread.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Sorry about that. I misread.

Natan79 says:

Not for the state of Israel. Not for a rabbi. Not for most Jews.

Saint_Etienne says:

Ahm, I am arguing with your interpretation of the Tanakh and of science – as you are with mine. Perhaps we will eventually reach agreement.

Deuteronomy 32 is a general praise of God for creating various peoples – it says nothing about conversion between them. As for the Ezekiel passage, I’ve already said that with all due respect you are probably misinterpreting it. I suggest you look up the Hebrew original http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/t/t1236.htm – it’s written in the plural (a point lost in English translation). Therefore it’s much more likely to be a statement about the Jewish people as a whole rather than an indivudal admonishment.

As for science – haplotypes are far from the rock-solid science you take them to be. It’s a new science, it’s in flux, and its findings are hotly argued. Anyway – what about those Jews who don’t have the CHM? Are they fake Jews?

And I’d really love to know what’s your take on the Edomites – are they Jews or not?

Saint_Etienne says:

No problem, happens to me at times too :)

TomJV says:

Oh dear, another one of those “not to be a socialist at 20″ types – and one who spend too much time on Trotsky to make it even worse.
However, these kind of articles do remind me to be careful to be too sure of myself, or too smother myself by only looking at one point of view only.

TomJV says:

The link gives a “page not found” error. Could you give the title of the NR article?

Tzur says:

Paul Johnson, in his History of the Jewish People, pp. 346-55, despite highly dubious claims about Marx’s “rabbinical” modes of thought, nevertheless argues much more persuasively and with many examples that Marx’s Communism grew out of his antisemitism and Jewish self-hatred; the “Capitalist” was the “Jew” generalized, in Marx’s worldview, and “Capitalism” was, as his first major essay in economic theory put it, simply “Judaism.” Eliminate one, and you eliminate the other. But there were plenty of other self-refuting aspects of his thought, says Johnson (I would call them “fraudulent,” but Johnson does not use the term). He never set foot in a factory, and actually despised the Proletariate he praised in his books as the necessary tools of the historical dialectical overthrow of the Capitalist order. However, the Proletariate had to be led to redemption by a hard and determined intellectual elite, people like Marx himself; the workers were merely the “men without substance,” the means to a higher end, and “scientifically,” the ends are what justify the means.

Although he spent all his time in the library amassing “scientific facts” and data, his Dickensian exaggerations and descriptions of British capitalism applied to a generation or more before his own time. His Das Kapital describes, and caricatures, a Britain that no longer existed. It was a Britain that had decades before his book came out passed laws against the child labor, bad working conditions, etc., that Marx revelled in as a present reality; it was a Britain that had opened up the middle class to millions of the poor. This reminds us that, fatefully, Marx never understood the democratic system any more than he understood religion or society generally. All of these were mere phoney puppets of the exploiting classes, he thought, even as, inspired by social and religious norms mainstream Britain passed him by and through democratic reforms made all dreams of cataclysm and revolution impossible of realization.

But this removal from empirical reality and actual investigation is not accidental. Johnson says: “(H)e was quite incapable of conducting objective, empirical research. He simply went through any likely material to furnish ‘proof’ of conclusions he had already reached … ” Karl Jaspers is quoted as saying that, unlike genuinely scientific researchers, “(H)e does not quote examples or adduce facts which run counter to his own theory … the whole approach is one of vindication, not investigation …” This attitude, precisely, was his real lasting contribution to Communism: the fanaticism that could ignore that contrary to Marx’s own “historical determinism” there were no spontaneously erupting Communist Revolutions in the advanced industrialized countries — they only erupted in the poorly developed and mostly agricultural countries, and demanded the tacit overthrow of all Marx’s own prescriptions for the pre-revolutionary phase of history.

Yes, he was a fraud.

genelevit says:

” I don’t accept genelevit’s argument” Why – not? If you are a religious man then your “blood” makes you a Jew since these are not my words but Torah’s. And if you are not a religious man then you can be a Jew only by blood. Either way the blood and not religion defines who is a Jew.

genelevit says:

It means just what i said: G-d chooses who is a Jew. Long time ago he chose us to be “Jews” because he made a bris with our ancestors. As to all other individuals – that is up to him: if he chooses one to be “a Jew” then that person might become a Jew by “conversion”. Otherwise he won’t.
(There are many instances when people became “Jews” without formal “conversion” and there are instances of the opposite nature as well.)

Saint_Etienne says:

I don’t accept your argument because it seems to imply that gerim are not Jews – a flat-out contradiction. If you can square that, please explain how.

And generally speaking, I tend to balk at the fetishization of “blood”, be it Jewish or otherwise…

Saint_Etienne says:

Communists didn’t do much, agreed. But I see you conveniently forgot the Labor Zionists… Which is not right, as for all their faults, they’ve actually built Israel.

Saint_Etienne says:

So what is Jewishness?

Lisa Liel says:

The State of Israel doesn’t determine Jewish law. They don’t say that a Jew who has become Christian isn’t a Jew, though; just that he isn’t eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return.

And yes, for any Orthodox rabbi. And most Jews don’t know the first thing about Jewish law.

Lisa Liel says:

There is no point. There may be a point where we don’t know, but that doesn’t change the fact. Esau was not Jewish. No one was born Jewish prior to Sinai. It wasn’t a thing. Everyone chose their own path. Esau chose the wrong one. After Sinai, you’re born either Jewish or not.

Lisa Liel says:

No, but neither was Esau, so your point is no point.

Lisa Liel says:

Keep flogging that horse…

Lisa Liel says:

They weren’t Anusim. They were Minim.

Lisa Liel says:

“You can’t be a lawyer if you’re a Jew” is very different from “You have to leave or die if you’re a Jew”. It doesn’t make a person an Anus. A Meshumad, perhaps.

Lisa Liel says:

Wrong. Without proper conversion, a non-Jew remains a non-Jew. But there is such a thing as proper conversion, and God gave us the laws regarding that.

Lisa Liel says:

Giyoret tzedek. And I don’t know what you mean by “ethnic”. I don’t know if there was such a thing back then. Either way, she was born a non-Jew and became a Jew.

Lisa Liel says:

What is intelligence? What is athleticness? Jewishness is something like “ethnicity” as mentioned above. It’s subjective. Lenny Bruce put it this way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD6Oi2kySSU

genelevit says:

I don’t see any contradiction. It is similar of having nationality. If your parents are Americans then you also are an American. But even if your parents are not Americans you still can become an American. However, in this case, not your personal will but an American law will determine your eligibility.
As to the “blood”… Those who went to the “auto-da-fe” or to crematorium probably had even bigger desire that their religion and not their “blood” would determine their identity. We have been chosen and can do nothing about it.

41953 says:

What makes Marx a “fraud?” He was a serious intellectual whose theories are subject to criticism. Not based on fraud, but on their merits.
He was not a Jew because he was not raised as a Jew, didn’t consider himself a Jew and had a father who converted from Judaism to Lutheranism and a mother who was not Jewish.
His essay “On the Jewish Question” is highly objectionable, although it was actually meant as an argument for the civic emancipation of Jews. What bothers me most as that Marx never revisited this essay even though a Jewish working class had grown up right before his eyes in England.
I do not doubt, however, that he would have opposed any form of poitical or racist anti-Semitism, as did Engels after Marx’s death.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Thank you for correcting my Hebrew. I did not have the privilege of learning any Hebrew when I was growing up.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

The definition of Anusim extended to those who converted due to economic sanctions, and the Wikipedia article even stated that Herschel Marx was in trouble with the law several times.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

He wasn’t a Christian. He was an Atheist whose parents became Anusim in order for Heinrich Marx to be able to become a lawyer and live well enough (e.g., without law enforcement persecuting him) in Prussia.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Most people here ignore Tanakh, from what I gather. When G-d promises to make the descendants of Avraham, Yitzhak, and Ya’akov a special people, He (at least to me) means it.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

That’s where, I think, we get caught up in being afraid of our Jewish heritage. Instead of being proud that we survived even the Holocaust and that G-d kept his promise to return us to our land, we let the Nazis rob us of our heritage and use it in a perverse way.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

In case your history is lacking, you may want to read up on David ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, and Ze’ev Jabotinsky. All were involved with Socialism and/or Communism. Again, we don’t have to like history, but we can’t change it.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Socialists, I think, try to find a balance between Capitalism and Communism.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

You don’t have to be so rude. I understand that you subscribe to Orthodox halakhah very much, but you are missing a key part of halakhah: “‘What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbour: that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it.’”

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Firstly, “Ancestrally Ashkenazi Jewish, his maternal grandfather was a Dutch rabbi, while his paternal line had supplied Trier’s rabbis since 1723, a role taken by his grandfather Meier Halevi Marx” (Wikipedia) In fact, “Henrietta Pressburg, was a semi-literate Dutch Jew who claimed to suffer from “excessive mother love”, devoting much time to her family and insisting on cleanliness within her home. Retaining her Jewish faith, her beliefs would have some influence on her children.” (ibid.) So, his mother was Jewish. Secondly, even though Marx was a Self-Hating Jew who tried to disown his Jewishness, he was still Jewish. Thirdly, keep in mind that he was growing up in a time in which “, after Napoleon’s defeat, Jews lost the rights of citizenship in several countries. Many Jews became Christian to retain those rights.” (JewishVirtualLibrary) So, Marx may have been less Self Hating more dreadful of the unfair repercussions that his heritage could bring on him.

Lisa Liel says:

Oh, dear God. Economic sanctions doesn’t mean you can’t be a doctor or a lawyer. It means you can’t get a job, period. It means no one will do business with you. Being barred from certain professions is something Jews have dealt with throughout our history, and someone who converts to get a leg up and have a lucrative income isn’t an Anus; he’s a traitor.

Jerry Blaz says:

While I adamantly disagreed with much of Marx’s ideas when I first became acquainted with them many years ago, this article throws the baby out with the bathwater. Never once does it describe the dialectic process, which was not a Marxian concept but an Hegalian concept which Marx adopted for his purpose. I happen to disagree that the dialectic is a good analytic tool, but that is its purpose in philosophy. While Hegel was a dialectical idealist, Marx proposed the dialectic as a material tool. Today, the argument between material and ideal have become obsolescent by dint of modern science, which the Soviets didn’t realize until it impeded their development. Turning an idea into a dogma, the Lysenko fiasco in agriculture was another defeat for the dialectic method.

Its application to the running of the state created an inefficient operation where, at a place where the wheel hits the road, created its own classes that owned dachas and chauffered them around in top-of-the-line luxury automobiles while the vast majority of the working class rode public transportation to work, and those lucky enough to have a number low enough got to purchase vehicles which were rudimentary compared to autos made in the U.S. or Europe.

Marx was a product of the nineteenth century at a time when he could believe that a philosophical system could be created that would cover all of mankind’s behavior from horizon to horizon. By the 20th century, theorists realized that society, economics, politics, etc., could not be covered by a one-size-fits-all philosophy or approach. What Marx did was make a great prognosis of capitalism. His criticism of capitalism can be exemplified by following the trends of growing disparity, particularly in countries where free enterprize is iconised.

41953 says:

My mistake. Yes mother was Jewish. Sorry. But he was not raised Jewish and he married a non-Jewish woman and did not raise his children Jewish.

He converted to Lutheranism and completely rejected his Jewish background.

Doug Fields says:

get your facts right, Chomsky is an anarchist not a communist, he has never denied the holocaust. If you don’t like the truth, then don’t listen, but don’t try to change reality with your closed minded rubbish.

Innsbronx Ezekiel says:

What an incredibly uninformed article, e.g. “On the Jewish Question” is not an Essay, but a review of a book of said title. In this review Marx quotes the book discussed extensively, which doesn’t make the quotes his own. In fact he was very critical of the book. So why is this “essay” (which ain’t one in the first place) “infamous”? Your tales about being a student red are probably meant to assert a certain expertise on the field – which you clearly lack.

Tzur says:

But our faith includes all those who have converted to Judaism, starting with the hundreds of converts Abraham brought into the fold and their descendants, and the “mixed multitude” of other slaves and free Egyptians who joined the Exodus and became Jews at Sinai itself, the Canaanites who converted in subsequent generations making the entire population “Jewish” by the time of the Babylonian Exile, and all later converts from all races who have joined us, so it is not a matter of blood and never was. The Jewish family lineage back to Abraham, as well as that back to Sinai, is a metaphorical family that encloses all believing Jews of whatever background.

If we halakhically inherit our Jewish status from our mother at birth, as I imagine you would say in response, we equally importantly do not do so from our father — so even here “blood” is not the decisive factor. Moreover, even if our mother is Jewish and we are not (by religious faith, i.e., in terms of affirming our Torah), we may indeed have some Jewish identity still, but this is not the case in the next generation nor forever down the female line — such descendants have to go through the formal conversion process to our religion to be properly “Jewish” in halakhic terms.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

What would you expect him to have done; starve?

runpacer says:

Natan, I don’t know where to begin. For you to post the statement that you did truly reveals your lack of knowledge of Israeli history and that of the Jewish people. You need to learn the past 150 years of Jewish history to understand the role Jews played in left politics, Labor Zionism and other progressive movements. Your statement is practically a form of cultural genocide since it denies so much of who we were/are today. Pick up something on Herman Hess, the Second Aliyah, Labor Zionism, Union Organizing in Eastern Europe and New York during the late 1800s through mid 1900s and our engagement in Civil Rights Movements here and elsewhere.

Lisa Liel says:

Get a freaking job. Work in a shop. “I demand to be a member of a very high class profession, and if I can’t do it while staying Jewish, then by damn, I’m not going to be Jewish!” That’s pathetic.

runpacer says:

Moses Hess not Herman. *)*

fartig says:

Do we really need another rehash of Irving Kristol and Norman Podoretz? WIth this article, TABLET sinks farther into its parochial, neo-con irrelevance. For an interesting and actually informative discussion of this book and of Marx, see the second-to-last issue of THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS. Marx was a lousy prophet, to be sure, but a good analyst of power relations in a society organized around a capitalist economy. His critique seems especially cogent in these days in which the present and easily predictable crisis in neo-liberalism has shown clearly how the false the prophets of the free market have shown themselves to be. But of course the vicious crimes perpetrated by the would-be engineers of human souls in Argentina and Chile, as they instituted their market reforms are duly forgotten in discussions such as these. Mikics is a smart literary critic. Pity he had to write this.

fartig says:

This is brilliant. The comments have fallen into an argument about who is a Jew, rather than a discussion of the relative merits of Mikics’s article and the relative worth of Marx’s ideas. What a waste.

Alterkocker says:

At the beginning of Mikics’s attempt at a hatchet job on Derrida, he claims he was once an avid student of the man. At the beginning of this oddly ill-informed article on Marx, he once again claims he was a student of the object of his resentment. Mikics seems to make a habit of becoming strongly disaffected and to enjoy the self-righteousness of public recantation. I’m assuming that as Mikics went to Yale, he was a student of Bloom. There is much to be said here about both anxiety and influence, though to be honest, this piece is about thirty years out of date, and probably does really bear that much scrutiny.

Alterkocker says:

Bizarre reading of the notion of the withering away of the state which comes from Hegel’s theory of right. And remarkably ignorant about Marx’s actual prognostications (he doesn’t describe the Communist future) which attributes to Marx Lenin’s theory of the vanguard party.

Alterkocker says:

Astonishingly bizarre posting. LSE was founded in 1895. No way Marx went there. You are entitled to your ill-informed opinions but not your so-called “facts.”

Alterkocker says:

Surely you jest. The socialist parts of the US? Oh, you must be one of those true believers–like the old Reds who differentiated between “actual existing socialism” with all its failures and the bright communist future–who thinks that the vicious crisis we are in is the product not of too much freedom in the markets, but too little. Don’t let the facts get in the way of your utopian beliefs.

PhillipNagle says:

Two of the biggest culprits of the current mess were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac along with a government policy that it should make home ownership easier. Our schools, government owned and operated, ie socialist, are a disgrace. We waste billions on the government rail system, Amtrak, that exists because passenger rail is obsolete. These are just a few of the socialist partsof the US we would better off without.

Habbgun says:

You are right sir!!!! I remembered wrong. He went to London to study the latest available economic theories but did not formally study in a university. Good get!!!

Habbgun says:

True enough again sir!!! Well done. I am not an expert I have read what I could by the experts and always need correcting. Thank you sensei !!!

You still have some problems though. Lenin is an accurate reflection of Marx. He would not have been the leader of the first Communist nation if he was not. Lenin had the problem of turning theory into reality and we all know Marx wrote scientifically. The withering away of the state is inevitable because things like Hegel’s theory of right says so. Engineers apply Newtonian principles successfully all the time because Newton was right. Saying the practitioners of Marx have failed the master is a cop out.

In fact you are arguing in a classic Marxist style. It is called citing the master. You correct information about the master but never allow the master to be challenged BUT FAR MORE IMPORTANTLY your goal is to prevent people from reading the far more authoritative writings refuting Marx.

Van Mises, Kolakowski, etc. provide detailed explanations and refutations. I don’t pretend to be a resource at all. I know my own ignorance . I just know of a few good ones to refer and I keep them on hand myself.

Shouldn’t we encourage people to learn? After all refuting the refutations is part of the scientific method right?

And finally the other Marxist technique in use (not in use by you though) is the constant use of equivalence.Fartig below does it. Capitalism is shown to be a failure because of the experiences of Argentina and Chile but Marx is still a good critic of capitalism. Let’s forget about the great experiments in misery under Stalin in Russia, Mao in China, Pol Pot in Cambodia and the continuing horrors in North Korea.

Marx is not a valid criticism of capitalism. In an imperfect world there are imperfections. Marx asserts the problems with Capitalism inevitably lead to communism because of the basic structure of capitalism. . If it doesn’t his “scientific” conclusions are invalid. You don’t have a claim to being a good nuclear physicist if all your theories fail continually in the lab. The same goes for Marx’s science. After all he wasn’t just asserting criticisms of capitalism but that he was correct while anarchists like Bukunin, socialists like La Salle, etc were wrong…..he asserted he was fundamentally right and knew the path of history….He never claimed to be only a mere researcher open to correction. Hence he is a giant fraud.

Natan79 says:

You are an ignoramus. Chomsky has denied the Communist genocide in Cambodia. He has also helped French Holocaust deniers like Robert Faurisson – in writing. You are extremely stupid.

Natan79 says:

Not a single one of them was Communist. Jabotinsky was anti-Communist.

Natan79 says:

The socialists who build israel were not marxists and were not Communists. You know absolutely nothing about Communism if you confuse it with Communism. You also have a major reading comprehension problem: I have not said a single bad word about Socialism, yet you accuse me of that.

Natan79 says:

Your answer is truly disgusting. You give lessons without having even the most basic and elementary notion of Israeli history. The most basic book of Israeli history can show anyone the distinction between Israeli Labor and Communism. The first built Israel. The second was a slave of Stalin. It is shocking that you cannot make this basic distinction between Communism on one side and Socialism or social-democracy on the other. How about you pick up an Israeli history book for a change?

Communism gave the world genocide and totalitarianism. – USSR, China, etc. In Israel, Communists were Stalin’s vile fifth column. In contrast, socialism gave the world quite a number of free societies, including Israel. If you cannot make even this most basic distinction of all, your lesson is worth nothing. Since you confuse Communism and Socialism, what else do you confuse, Socialism and National-Socialism? I wish you personally to live in a Communist country. See how like your genocidal friends. As a Zionist, I am proud to be card-carrying Socialist and Israeli citizen.

Natan79 says:

Excellent points!

Natan79 says:

That is contrary to both Jewish religion and the laws of State of Israel.

Natan79 says:

Anusim are Jews forced to convert to another religion. No one forced Marx’s family to convert to Christianity, Most of your interventions here could be gone if you consulted the dictionary.

Natan79 says:

Marx was a piece of shit (because of what he did, not who he was born). That would be a good description of the man and his anti-Semitic ideas.

Natan79 says:

That’s a lie. Most of what you write on Tablet is a complete lie. Anusim means Jews that were forced to convert. No one forced Marx’s parents.

Saint_Etienne says:

Before we get into a parsing war, let me try to formulate something on which we can agree, OK?

1. The Yishuv Labor movement was composed of various factions with evolving ideology. Some of them were Marxists, some were not. All of them were socialist.

2. Whatever one thinks of Marx and Marxism, to deny that early 20th century socialists were not influenced by him would be to fly in the face of facts. Some like Ben-Gurion grew up and fraduated from Marxism; some like Mapam did not. But you’ll hardly find a socialist back then whose ideas were not either an elaboration or a disputation of Marx’s. (Disputation could also take the form of exegesis, like Borochov’s). I am not an expert on this (and I suspect neither you are) but this much is standard knowledge.

3.It’s all too easy today to draw a crisp line, as you do, between Bolshevism and other left ideologies. But it was not possible to do so in real time!

Mapam, for example, could not bring itself to repudiate Stalin even after 1956. But Mapam certainly contribute positively to Israel in its Palmach phase. So it’s much more complicated than you make it seem.

There’s more to it but I’m afraid it’s becoming a scroll already… Do you agree with my analysis so far? If not, where is the point of divergence?

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Speaking of dictionaries, it’s “inventions”, if you’re going to accuse me of such. And the Encylopedia Judaica via the Jewish Virtual Library states, “ANUSIM (Heb. אֲנוּסִים; “forced ones”), persons compelled by overwhelming pressure, whether by physical threats, psychological stress, or economic sanctions, to abjure Judaism and adopt a different faith (in contradistinction to meshummadim, or voluntary apostates – see *Apostasy).”

So, Heinrich Marx was psychologically and economically under duress.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Mainstream Judaism and Medinat Yisra’el follow Talmud for the most part, not Tanakh. I encourage you to look into Karaite and even Messianic thought if you desire to gain a different perspective.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

And you’re better than Marx by calling a misguided and broken man a POS?

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Revisionism and socialism came from and/or influenced Communism. Whatever your problem is, I’m not going to tolerate your rudeness toward me; so I’m going to ask you to cut your rudeness out.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

I’d ignore Natan79 at this point. He’s being verbally abusive and rude, both of which are unacceptable and unJewish. Vayikra 19:17-18 states, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour, and not bear sin because of him.” Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” If Natan truly feels that any of us are sinning, he surely is not rebuking us in a Jewish manner.

Yosef ben Israel says:

“Because Marxism really can be like a religion” Agree! Moreover, communism is a kind of judaism : a book, the Capital; a few prophets, Marx, Lenin etc.; a chosen people, the proletariat; a messianic era, the communism; synagogues and payers, the cells of the party and the party meetings; repairing the world, by social justice. Communism, Marx’s fruit, didn’t fall far from it’s judaic tree. Yes, Marx was a Jew and yes, he invented a new and successful religion inspired by the religion of his fathers. It’s not without reason that so many Jews were also communists.

Yosef ben Israel says:

Moshe (Moses) Hess was an early marxist and even invented the term “communism” it seems. He was also an ardent zionist, the first modern zionist maybe, before Herzl (read “Rome and Jerusalem”). Reality is not as simple you think. And it’s not because you are right on some other points that you are right on this one. Denying the influence of Marx on Judaism, put you at the same level as the stalinists who rewrite the history when they are displeased with it. A lot of Jews have been communist, it’s better to try to understand why than to deny their intelligence.

Yosef ben Israel says:

Born from a jewish mother he is, for the Jews, a Jew. According to the jewish (rabbinic) law.

Yosef ben Israel says:

“Jew” is reserved for the descendants of the tribe of Yehuda.

Lisa Liel says:

Um… no. The district of Judea was so named because the returnees were mostly refugees from the Kingdom of Judah, which was home to Judahites, Benjaminites, Levites, and any number of Israelites from other tribes who had chosen to live there. Jew is a word denoting those people.

As a matter of practicality, “Jew” means descendent of the Israelites who received the Torah at Sinai after the Exodus, plus any converts who joined us since then.

Lisa Liel says:

Communism is in no way “a kind of Judaism”.

Lisa Liel says:

No, Mara, he was not. He had numerous employment opportunities open to him. Just not the one he wanted. Having your desires thwarted does not consititue “overwhelming pressure” or “economic sanctions”. Heinrich Marx simply thought that being a lawyer was more important than remaining faithful to his people. He was absolutely a voluntary apostate.

If I tell you that you can’t be President of the United States if you’re Jewish, you can’t say, “But it’s my dream to be President of the United States! I’m therefore under unbearable duress and must become a Christian.” That’s just nutty. The lawyer thing is the same principle. He could have been a shopkeeper or a freaking janitor, but his desire to be a lawyer was the most important thing to him, so he voluntarily apostasized.

Lisa Liel says:

There’s a reason all of the kibbutzim failed eventually.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Since we can’t agree on Heinrich Marx, we can hopefully agree on Karl Marx’s mother. “In 1815 Herschel began work as an attorney, in 1819 moving his family to a ten-room property near the Porta Nigra.[19] His wife, Henrietta Pressburg, was a semi-literate Dutch Jew who claimed to suffer from “excessive mother love”, devoting much time to her family and insisting on cleanliness within her home.[20] Retaining her Jewish faith, her beliefs would have some influence on her children.[21]” (See Wikipedia)

Lisa Liel says:

And the point is…?

Boleslaw Bierut says:

that was a nice Freudian slip.;)

Bob Loblaw says:

How bold to come out against Soviet style communism in 2013! I look foreword to the author’s next courageous and timely stance which will undoubtably be a rousing rhetoric against (yes, dare I say, against!) Torquemada and any Spanish inquisition’s which may have sprung up from his ideals.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

The point is that we can hopefully agree on something about Marx.

ERIC MEDINA says:

FUK KU GOD

Lisa Liel says:

Is that important to you? Okay, what exactly is it that we’re going to be agreeing about? Something about Marx’s mother, I guess, but I don’t see what there is to agree about. Or to disagree about, for that matter.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

We were debating as to whether Marx’s parents were Anusim. We can at least agree that his mother remained openly Jewish.

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Wow. You’ve just proven to be one of the most disagreeable and mean people that I’ve ever encountered. Heinrich Marx was trying to provide for his family and use his gifts and talents, and you would rather his family have been poor or even dead from starvation.

Lisa Liel says:

I assume you’re from an upper middle class family, yes? Lots of professionals? Because I find it disgusting that you’d equate jobs held by most people to being “poor or even dead from starvation”. No one ever died of starvation from not being a lawyer. Sheesh.

Krishna Pachegonker says:

Your critique of colossal thinker like Karl Marx is not baseless but utter nonsense! The man whose ideas moved millions of people cannot be obnoxiously called a fraud like a political opponent! this is bizzare article

Dracovert says:

For a person whose thought and principles have utterly failed in every application, Marx, who is at the center of many controversies, remains an enigma. May I suggest a solution to this problem. Far from being “scientific,” as Marx claimed, Marx has
all the characteristics of a clinical psychopath, as defined by Dr. Hervey Cleckley and as up-dated by Dr. Robert Hare.

This article glosses over Marx’s troubled relationship with his wife and family. Yes, Marx professed and demonstrated love for his wife and family, while keeping them in abject poverty. Four of his children died of starvation-induced poverty, which brings into question his dedication to his family. One of his grown daughters committed suicide. Marx’s alienation from his religious heritage is typical of psychopaths, bringing into question his own sense of identity. Read further:

http://mandynamerica.com/blog/2012/03/08/karl-marx-was-a-psychopath/

Mittymo says:

Marx was an economic neophyte that liked to pontificate about utopia whenever alcohol clouded his reality. And one day an extremely naive man by the name of Engels overhead one of Marx’s drunken sermons & bought into it hook, line, & sinker. Their meeting gave birth to communism, one of the great blights in history.

Why did it take so long for people to discover how shallow & unworkable the concept was (and is)? Plus, communism has a penchant for corruption. (The only place it ever worked was in Marx & Engels’ imaginations.)

The basic problem with communism is that it runs counter to the fundamental nature of man. Marx & Engels may as well have tried to teach cats to give up hunting birds & mice.

Mittymo says:

Notice that Marx identified Jews with capitalism, and Hitler totally bought into that narrative, blaming Jews for much of the economic malaise Germany suffered and giving him justification for confiscating the Jews’ properties in order to fund his social programs.

(Does socialism always require a scapegoat, like the 1 percenters in America? BTW, many of the 1 percenters in America are Jewish.)

Plus, the famous German, Martin Luther, had long preached to his congregations (and anyone else that would listen) that Jews had the blood of Jesus on their hands (a myth that turned out to be Roman propaganda).

N. Mara Czarnecki says:

Well, we know that Hitler (Y’Sh) and Marx were both totally wrong and misguided (Well, Marx was misguided; the other deliberately, to say the least, ignored the truth.). Being a capitalist does not make one Jewish, or Jewish one a capitalist.

Also, we know that Pilate and Luther (I almost typed “Hitler” instead of “Luther”, but what’s the difference ultimately?) spread Roman propaganda. That was Pilate’s whole point: he really didn’t find Jesus innocent, either; he just said that he did. That Pilate would lie about what he really thought and was his hands confirms, “among the long line of cruel procurators who ruled Judea, Pilate stood out as a notoriously vicious man.” (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/jesus.html)

So, of course Pilate would actually “have allowed a mob of Jews, whom he detested, to force him into killing someone whom he [only claimed that he] admired.” Why? To, in your words, “scapegoat them. Pilate (and his predecessors–among whom stand Ferdinand and Isabella, and Luther) had every bit of mens rea in the world.

kim carsons says:

The mention of Israel as some kind of paragon of democracy pretty much sums up all you need to know about this article – ie without any relevance to the ideas of Marx, and does jewish thought a huge disservice in the process. Perhaps the author should look to Walter Benjamin and he may yet find a way out of the malaise.

Bernard says:

“David Greenglass and the Rosenbergs helped bring the world close to atomic Armageddon and gave the Soviet Union, as a nuclear-armed power, the might to subject millions to its tyranny.”

I find this doubtful. This may well have been their intention, but I don’t think that the information that they actually provided played a significant role in the development of nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union.

2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Karl Marx: The Greatest Intellectual Fraud of the 19th and 20th Centuries

An impressive new biography looks at the original Jewish leftist—and shines light on the appeal of radical politics for Jews