Sunday, June 14, 2009

More on Karl Marx the antisemite

Michael Ezra commented on this previously (I reproduced his post here) and has now returned to the fray. See below. How you can read Marx's letters (also posted here) and not recognize the depth of his hate for Jews quite escapes me -- JR

My post on the antisemitism of Karl Marx provoked much controversy. More than one person has told me to my face that I am “wrong” on the matter. In that case, I am in distinguished company. Sir Isaiah Berlin was one of the greatest historians of ideas of the last century. He was unequivocal in his verdict on Marx and the Jewish question:
As for the Jews, in [“On the Jewish Question,” Marx] declared them to be a repellent symptom of the social malaise of the time, an excrescence upon the social body – not a race, or a nation, or even a religion to be saved by conversion to some other faith or way of life, but a collection of parasites, a gang of money-lenders rendered inevitable by the economically self-contradictory and unjust society that had generated them – to be eliminated as a group by the final solution to all social ills – the coming, inescapable, universal, social revolution. The violently anti-Semitic tone… became more and more characteristic of Marx in his later years… and is one of the most neurotic and revolting aspects of his masterful but vulgar personality.[1]

Likewise, biographer Robert Payne declared that Marx harboured a “deeply personal hatred” of Jews and displayed “virulent” antisemitism.[2] Another biographer, Saul Padover, argued that “Marx’s hatred of Jews was a canker which neither time nor experience ever eradicated from his soul.”[3]

The American sociologist Lewis Feuer’s edition of Marx became “the standard text used in American college classrooms to study Marxism for almost a generation.”[4] Feuer argued that Marx had “hysterical hatred of the Jews.”[5] The distinguished historian Walter Laqueur wrote that for Marx, Judaism was “a totally negative phenomenon.”[6] Seymour Martin Lipset, subsequent president of both the American Sociological Association and American Political Science Association, also defined Marx’s comments as “anti-Semitic.”[7]

In the socialist journal Dissent, Joseph Clark argued that “the association by Marx of Jews and huckstering, Jews and money-grubbing, Jews and loan-mongering, Jews and capital, has been a standard of all anti-Semitic propaganda.” He labelled Marx’s article “The Russian Loan” as “viciously anti-Semitic.”[8] A New York Times reviewer noted “dozens of anti-Semitic remarks” in Marx’s collected letters, which he found “disgusting.”[9]

These examples could be multiplied. Yet Robert Fine accuses all these commentators of being unable to comprehend what Marx was actually saying![10]

What of Marx’s other apologists?

David McLellan

Marx biographer David McLellan’s short defence seems rather confused:
It is largely [“On the Jewish Question”] that has given rise to the view that Marx was an anti-semite. It is true that a quick and unreflective reading of, particularly, the briefer second section leaves a nasty impression. It is also true that Marx indulged elsewhere in anti-Jewish remarks – though none as sustained as here.

So on the one hand, only a “quick and unreflective reading” leaves “a nasty impression,” but on the other hand the “anti-Jewish remarks” in this essay are “sustained.” McLellan adds that Marx “was himself attacked as a Jew by many of his most prominent opponents.” But how does this change the meaning of Marx’s own words?

McLellan argues that “On the Jewish Question” was not aimed at Jews as such but at “vulgar capitalism,” which was “popularly associated with Jews.” He continues: “the German word for Jewry – Judentum, – has the secondary sense of commerce and, to some extent, Marx played on this double meaning.” He adds that Marx’s friend Moses Hess used similar language.[11]

These excuses have not convinced the scholarly community. As John Maguire observed: “When Marx tells us that the ‘empirical essence’ of Judentum/Judaism is Judentum/commerce, there is every reason to believe that he means what he has said.”[12] Neil McInnes pointed out that on McLellan’s view, Marx was making the circular argument that “Western society became commercialised when it was commercialised.”[13] And Dennis Fischman warned: “If modern writers on Marx leave his scurrilous attacks on Judaism unanswered, then, they run the risk of helping to perpetuate them.”[14]

Hal Draper and Henry Pachter

Among Robert Fine’s sources is the American Marxist, Hal Draper, author of a famous 5-volume study of Marx’s theory of revolution.[15] Draper’s essay on Marx and the “Economic Jew Stereotype” rejected the antisemitism charge as anachronistic. The political historian Henry Pachter also insisted that “the term ‘anti-Semitic’ as we understand it today does not apply” – in spite of Marx’s “anti-Semitic expletives” and his use of “anti-Semitic invective” whenever it “served a propagandistic purpose”![16]

Even the anti-Zionist Joel Kovel dismissed these excuses:
Both Hal Draper and Henry Pachter make essentially the same point. Marx should not be judged by the standards of our day for using the common language of his… To excise anti-Semitism from Marx’s discourse because everybody else was saying the same thing… would simply erase all social science. Imagine making the same judgment on, say, Goebbels, who after all was only repeating what other Nazis said about Jews.[17]

Erich Fromm

According to the social psychologist Erich Fromm, it was “cold-war propaganda” to suggest that Marx was anti-Semitic. Conceding that Marx wrote “harsh” and “not always correct” things about Judaism, Fromm objected that “he said equally harsh words about the British shopkeepers, the German philosophers, and the Russians.”[18]

As Joseph Clark aptly commented:
Apart from the question whether racism applied to many nationalities is better than exclusive anti-Semitism, there is an astounding lack of symmetry that eludes Fromm. For it wasn’t the Jews of medieval times who drove the British out of their island kingdom; nor did the Jews exterminate the Germans; and the Russians were not deprived of their language, their culture, their national existence by the Jews.[19]

Much more HERE


Time to Rein in Unspent Stimulus

Nearly five months into Barack Obama's presidency, his stimulus program is failing to produce the jobs he promised. And voters are souring on his big spending, deficit-driving policies.

A nationwide Rasmussen poll found that nearly half of Americans (45 percent) want the administration to stop spending the remaining bulk of the $787 billion economic-stimulus fund, doubting the money will create any new jobs. Just 36 percent want the spending to continue, while 20 percent say they're not sure.

With the unemployment rate spiraling up to 9.4 percent in May and this year's budget deficit speeding well past $1.8 trillion, Americans are turning against Obama's handling of the economy and the unprecedented rise in government spending. Last week, the Gallup Poll said that while 55 percent of their sampling approved of the way he was handling the economy, 42 percent disapproved -- up sharply from 30 percent in February.

Americans are growing even more disgusted with the way Obama is dealing with the budget deficit -- with 46 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving. His numbers are worse on the issue of "controlling federal spending" -- 45 percent approve, but, for the first time, a 51-percent majority disapproves.

These polling numbers were reinforced by a number of economists on the left and the right who say his infrastructure stimulus has been an abject failure from the beginning. "Despite administration claims, the stimulus package has created or saved few jobs," said University of Maryland economist Peter Morici. "This is best seen in the absolute absence of growth in state and local government employment." "The stimulus package was poorly conceived. Not enough is devoted to hard projects, and little of the spending will stimulate permanent growth," Morici said last week in his latest economic analysis.

The same view can be found at the conservative Hoover Institution on the Stanford University campus. "The end of the recession is still months away, but it is increasingly clear the stimulus package was a serious mistake. To date, it has had no identifiable beneficial impact on the economy," Stanford economist John Cogan told me. "More important, its impact later this year and next will be decidedly negative because the funds required to finance the package's spending will be drawn from private-sector resources that are needed to fuel the recovery. At this juncture, Congress would be wise to repeal the remainder of the program," Cogan said.

That idea may be gaining support among Republicans on Capitol Hill whose "stop the spending" plea is resonating with millions of Americans angered by the Obama Democrats' spending spree on make-work, pork-barrel projects that will enlarge the federal deficit but employ few workers.



Texas stymies the legal jackals

Texas recently finished its legislative session, and the best news is what didn't pass. Namely, some 900 bills put forward by the tort bar.

The plaintiffs-lawyer lobby spent $9 million in last year's state legislative elections to help smooth the way for these bills, which were designed to roll back tort reforms passed in recent years, or to create new ways to sue. Yet that money wasn't enough to convince most Texas legislators to give up two-decades of hard-won legal progress, which ranges from class-action clean-up to medical liability reform.

Among the more notable failed proposals were a bill that would have shifted the burden of medical proof away from plaintiffs and on to defendants in asbestos and mesothelioma cases; an attempt to rip up Texas's successful system of trying multidistrict litigation in a single court; and legislation to allow plaintiffs to sue for "phantom" medical expenses.

Part of this success was due to the legislature's gridlock over a controversial voter ID bill. Yet Republicans who run the Senate and House also did yeoman's work to keep many bills from ever reaching the floor. Republicans also got a helping hand from a number of brave, antilawsuit Democrats, many of them from South Texas, where litigation has exacted more of an economic toll.

Speaking of the economy, it's notable that Texas created more new jobs last year than the other 49 states combined. Texas's low tax burden is one reason. But also important is a fairer legal environment in which companies are less likely than they were a generation ago to face jackpot justice.




A great humorous story here: Dennis Prager's 58 seconds in Madison Square Garden.

Another blank in Obama's past: "Obama transferred from Occidental College to Columbia University in 1981, at the age of 20. According to the New York Times, Obama "suggests in his book that his years in New York were a pivotal period: He ran three miles a day, buckled down to work and 'stopped getting high,' which he says he had started doing in high school. Yet he declined repeated requests to talk about his New York years, release his Columbia transcript or identify even a single fellow student, co-worker, roommate or friend from those years."... Obama claimed to be a part of the Black Student Organization and anti-apartheid activities. But according to the New York Times, several well-known student leaders did not recall his involvement. Fox News made contact with 400 of Obama's classmates. No one remembered him."

Obama trying to eliminate pocketknives!: "The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency is proposing a new definition that could be used to eliminate 8 of 10 legal pocketknives in the United States right now, according to activists who are gearing up to fight the plan. For a long time, those switchblades that have long stiletto blades that are spring-ejected powerfully from the side or end of the handle have been illegal in the United States, but now a review by the agency of its own approval in 2008 of a particular type of knife for import is raising serious alarms. Ritter said the effect of the proposed change would be that the new design in knives, many of which contain a tiny spring to help the user pull open the blade and lock it into position, would be classified alongside those true weapons where the user just presses a button and the blade is ejected."

The Federal Reserve has suddenly become a State bank: "The Federal Reserve Board, at the behest of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, has now decided to initiate a new program that will lend up to $1 trillion dollars for anything from student loans to small business bailouts. And his began the ultimate blurring of the lines between a commercial bank and the role of the Federal Reserve. It is all to be done under a new program known as the Term Asset-backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF, created in October of last year. Significantly, TALF was set up not by Congress—which is, of course, answerable to those whose tax dollars it spends. It was created by the Fed itself, which is answerable to ...well, itself"

New York kill geese to prevent plane collision: "Authorities in the US are to kill up to 2000 Canada Geese to prevent another Hudson River incident. The New York Port Authority (PA) will trap and kill the geese located within five miles of Kennedy and LaGuardia airports to stop them from colliding with aircraft, reports the New York Post. The report says airport supervisors will be trained to become certified shotgun instructors to increase the capacity to shoot birds when necessary. Nearly 1250 geese from the vicinity of LaGuardia Airport are said to have already been removed. The agency is also said to have plans to install a state-of-the-art bird radar pilot program at JFK to better detect the birds. "Customer safety is our foremost priority, and we're constantly looking for new ways to do an even better job," PA chairman Anthony Coscia told the New York Post. Mayor Bloomberg said Canada geese pose a serious danger to aviation, which became clear when geese struck US Airways Flight 1549. "The incident served as a catalyst to strengthen our efforts in removing geese from, and discouraging them from nesting on, City property near our runways," Mayor Bloomberg said. The move comes after US Airways Flight 1549 was forced to ditch in the Hudson River on January 15 after several birds flew into the plane's engines. Bird feathers were later found stuck in both engines." <[At long last!]

Competition would save medicine, too: "Competition so regularly brings us better stuff — cars, phones, shoes, medicine — that we’ve come to expect it. We complain on the rare occasion the supermarket doesn’t carry a particular ice-cream flavor. We just assume the store will have 30,000 items, that it will be open 24/7, and that the food will be fresh and cheap. I take it for granted that I can go to a foreign country, hand a piece of plastic to a total stranger who doesn’t speak English … and he’ll rent me a car for a week. Later, Visa or MasterCard will have the accounting correct to the penny. Compare: Governments can’t even count votes accurately — or deliver the mail efficiently. Yet now, somehow, government will run auto companies and guarantee us health care better than private firms? And the public seems eager for that!”

NY: “Infuriated” juror let go from trial: “A New York juror who told the judge the case was moving so slow that ‘people are falling asleep’ was removed from the jury. Eilene Block, 47, who was serving on the jury for the trial of a man accused of hitting a 16-year-old with his Jet Ski, wrote in a letter to Supreme Court Justice Deborah Dowling that she did not believe she would be able to continue as an impartial juror in the slow-moving case after it was announced that the three week trial would extend into another week. … Block wrote that she was particularly incensed by the prosecution’s two-day cross-examination of an accident reconstruction expert. ‘I’m infuriated to the point where I am no longer able to serve as an objective juror,’ Block wrote”

Britain: The database state: “Click a mouse, text a friend, use your credit cards, sign up for a storecard, pay your car tax or buy a TV licence, walk in the street under the gaze of CCTV, apply for social benefits, forget to tick the box on that says ‘we’d like to share your information with …’ and your ID cat is out of the bag, floating around between — well, who knows who? That’s why the proposed National Identity Register is so dangerous. And the NHS patient records system too. Tens of millions of our records, all accessible to whichever of 400,000 civil servants happens to have the right security code.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


No comments: