Thursday, April 6, 2017

Stray Thoughts

Stray thoughts: Marx and anti-Semitism.

Was Marx anti-Semitic? Writings such as his "On the Jewish Question" (1843), written when he was 25,  indicate he was, drawing on readymade tropes of the Jew as financier, symbol of, to his young mind, everything wrong with, or retarding, the bold and transformative new capitalist economy.

The Jew as parasite. That particular trope got a lot of seriously murderous play in years to come.

As Marx saw it in 1843, capitalists made things, and reconfigured society for the — scientifically inevitable — transcendence of capitalism that would be enacted by its proletariat, which would lead, after a paroxysm or two, to a blissfully classless society, the end of all history.

Let's draw back a bit and remember that Jews and the Jewish question occupied only a tiny amount of Marx's voluminous corpus. Does the Jewish question recur in "The Communist Manifesto"? It does not. Do Jews get even a mention in Marx's famously trenchant "18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte"? Not even a footnote. How about in the three volumes of "Das Kapital"? You'd think in his supposedly seminal grand prospectus of history Jews might have cropped up now and then. But, so I've heard, they don't. (I've never read beyond some choice bits in those three volumes and don't intend to start now.)

To reject Marx for anti-Semitism, therefore, is a cheap and uninformed way of rejecting him. It is to miss entirely the much more appropriate ways of rejecting him.

If you reject him for his anti-Semitism, you're not rejecting him much at all.

What about his metaphysics, his ontology and epistemology? What about his entelechy and his teleology? What about that?

Heh heh heh.
What about that?



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