Number 30, Oct 1998
Pt 1 Marx on Jewry & Preface;
The other parts accessed via the Table of Contents


    Bourgeoisie nationalists, whether of Zionist and Pan-Islamic persuasions, both accuse the USSR of the socialist era (from 1917-1953) of racism, aimed against either Jews or Arabs respectively. But, in reality Lenin and Stalin gave an even-handed and single reply, to both the Pan-Islamists and to the Zionists. This reply was to eschew a narrow bourgeois nationalism, in order to create socialism.

    In Alliance 30 we attempt to put the recent history of Jewry into a Marxist-Leninist context. This means we will first examine the views of Marx, Lenin and Stalin upon the ideologies of Zionism and its precursors. Next we discuss the Jewish Autonomous Region of Birobidzhan established by the Soviets. Of necessity we examine the so called AJewish Plot@ and the ADoctor=s Plot@ in the USSR. This is necessary to sensibly to discuss how it was that the USSR would come to agree at the United Nations, to a recognition of the imperialist-led partition of Palestine, and the planting of the colony of Israel.

    In the companion Alliance Number 31, we will examine the views of Lenin and Stalin on Pan-Islamism. The form Pan-Islamism took in the USSR, was known as Sultan-Galiyev-ism. We then briefly examine the versions of Pan-Islamism represented by the Ba=ath Party ideology of Syria and Iraq; and finally we will assess the views of Samir Amin.


A Methodological Foreword Upon Recent Sources For Marxist-Leninists:

    Alliance has always tried to punctiliously show its source material with as precise references as is possible. This is not an academic peccadillo- to be disdained as Aarmchair Marxism@. Rather it is essential to root a Marxist-Leninist view of the world in an objective and clear manner. Only this permits any possible rebuttals that are based on facts rather than those of opinion. It has not been necessary to comment on this matter till now. However three new issues have arisen, regarding source materials that directly affect the Marxist-Leninist movement.

    Firstly: Certain documents have been released in the Gorbachev era and more recently, from the Soviet archives. This is generally of benefit to Marxist-Leninists, who try to explain the real events inside the former USSR in its Marxist-Leninist days of Stalin=s life time. Previous readers of Alliance, will know that we generally try to highlight the most significant of such documents; and we draw readers= attention to the confusion that this raises in the bourgeois academic circles. For instance, we previously discussed how the school of so called Arevisionist@ historians - such as Arch Getty Junior - have tried to struggle with such evidence that contradicts the standard Trotsky influenced bourgeois academic histories. But a caveat must be introduced. It is very unlikely that ALL relevant documents will surface in our lifetime. Moreover, we do not know what documents of Stalin=s=s and other relevant leading personalities may have been destroyed. All the written archival materials are unlikely to be made available to us anyway, since some of these will be deemed Atoo sensitive@. Why should the Russian state behave any differently to the British Kew Gardens Archives for instance? We therefore simply raise a caution regarding the appropriate interpretation of documents that may become available. These are likely to be only Aspotty@ and unlikely to give us all the facts.

    Secondly: As a corollary, this leaves some to a continuing abundance of the hear-say, AHe said-They said,@ type of scurrilous evidence. This leads to a dilemma for the Marxist-Leninists, as to whether to even use this type of evidence at all. But to ignore it is to ignore the charges that the authors lay at Stalin. This does not help Marxists-Leninists currently since one of our current tasks - is to counter the bourgeois historiography and lies. On the other hand, in using these sources it is necessary to be highly selective. Instances are provided in Alliance 30 of two especially problematic sources.

    Very little written is available on Stalin=s attitude to the Jewish Question. A new low in scurrilous writing on Stalin is provided by the virulent Arkady Vaksberg in AStalin Against The Jews@, New York; 1994. Much of the tone and a large measure of the content of this book is scurrilous. For instance - Vaksberg alleges that Stalin did not really research and write the famous article on AThe National Question@. Nonetheless we will use the Vaksberg source - albeit with caution - since little else is available on the subject.

    Another such problem source is the memoirs of Pavel Sudoplatov, published in 1994. After 1939, he was the officer in charge of the NKVD (later MGB) special operations. Several attacks upon Sudoplatov=s honesty and reliability have been made. Sudoplatov claimed that he organized the assassination of Trotsky under direct orders from Stalin, and that the Soviet atomic bomb was only made possible by secrets divulged by the Danish physicist Niels Bohr.

    Both claims are untrue. David Holloway has exposed the latter lie in an article in AScience@, (Holloway D; Science May 27th, 1994), and the former lie is contrary to key facts as discussed by the CL. (CL article reprinted Alliance Issue Number 7. ) It is interesting that these memoirs were recorded from Sudoplatov by Jerrold L. & Leona P. Schecter. This same couple first fully published Khrushchev=s memoirs in 1970, in an association between Life magazine & Little Brown Publishers. (See Pavel &A Sudoplatov; with JL &LP Schecter:@Special Tasks@; Boston; 1995 p.xxiii) . It is also not a coincidence that one of the most anti-Communist writers, Robert Conquest, exonerates Sudoplatov of falsification in a glowing foreword.
Of course, Conquest is careful to cover himself by saying that:

Nonetheless Conquest ends by lauding the memoirs: ABut it will be seen that (criticisms-ed) are of little consequence compared with the solid substance we Sudoplatov offers is.. A unique document.. The most valuable of all possible sources for important matters over the whole period of High Stalinism".
Ibid; p.xiv.
    We reply that the most solid evidence about the period is in Stalin=s own writings. The fragmentary additional evidence must be sensibly pieced together using in addition, Marxist-Leninist theory.

    Thirdly: We have increasingly over the last few months/years used sources derived from the world wide web. We caution however that it is sometimes difficult to know who is posting these various documents on the web. We thus attempt to use these documents sparingly. Above all, if web sources are used, we attempt to fully reference the web site.

    When Zionists attack Lenin and Stalin for their alleged racism against the Jewish peoples, the accusation devolves onto one issue. That issue is that Lenin and Stalin denied at the turn of the century, that the Jewish people had a national status.

    After German fascists, aided by Western imperialism launched the genocide against Jews, before and during World War II, a national identity was then formed in the state of Israel. In fact the German fascists helped to weld a later national= possibility for Jews in the imperialist stooge state of Israel. This later event was not one that could have been dealt with by Lenin or Stalin in their early writings. In "The National Question", Stalin had pointed out, that nations come into being and pass away. Obviously a different situation arose after World War II, engineered by imperialism, which before turned a blind eye to the genocide of the Jews. This was part of the overall strategy of turning Germany against the USSR. But some imperialisms, especially the USA promoted the migration of Jews into former Palestine, to consolidate their position against other imperialisms. This created a further tension between the British imperialists and the USA imperialists.

    It was not racism that informed the views of Lenin and Stalin. The attitude of Lenin and Stalin was to destroy separatist tendencies that would ghetto-ise= and narrow the proletariat. Lenin quoted with approval the words of Ernest Renan, which quickly summarize the views that Lenin had on ghettos= and racism of all sorts:

AWhen the National Assembly of 1791 decreed the emancipation of the Jews,@ writes Renan, AIt was very little concerned with the question of race.. It is the business of the Nineteenth Century to abolish all ghettos=, and I cannot compliment those who seek to restore them. The Jewish race has rendered the world the greatest services. Assimilated with the various nations, harmoniously blended with the various national units, it will render no less services in the future than in the past."
(Lenin Quoting Ernst Renan of Paris, 1887, in : AThe Position of Bund In The Party@. 1903).


Marx=s Views

    There can be little doubt that the position of Germany Jewry was that of a discriminated section of the German people. This is attested to even in the biographies of the few that managed to climb out of the slums such as the Rothschilds. (Elon A; ARothschild@; London; 1993)

    We will not need to itemize these discrimination in detail, as the texts and interpretation are easily available. In brief, the Jews suffered severe restrictions including curfews, limits on where they could live, special mandatory requirements in order to allow them to perform any work, no State employment allowed, and a host of petty problems including upon marriage rights. This does not even discuss the excluding the possibility of pogroms.

    The views of Lenin and Stalin on the Jews, followed those of Karl Marx- himself a Jew. In turn, Marx=s views on the Jewish Question, were very similar to contemporary Jewish progressives, such as seen in the early views of Moses Hess, a Jewish social democrat. In essence they all urged Jews to fully embrace secular society in order to merge into it. But Hess then renounced a secular progressive stand to adopt Jewish mysticism. But Moses Hess turned to embraced mysticism. In doing so he ensured that later on, 'progressive minded Zionists=, would point to Hess rather than Marx, in order to argue that Socialism= and Zionism@ are supposedly compatible!

    In contrast to their support of Hess, Zionists loathe Marx, and charge him of racism. But the grounds for this Zionist charge, are transparently flimsy. The charges invoke a Marx - Aalienated@ from his Jewishness. The charges of anti-Jewish racism has to deal with the fact that Marx was a descendent of a long line of Rabbis in Germany and Italy. His father in Trier had converted to Christianity, in order obtain livelihood, although his mother never did convert. Marx, it is claimed hated his Jewishness= - Saul Padover uses the term ;

As Padover puts it : AAs an understandable defense mechanism, young Marx deprived of a spiritual base of support in Judaism, imbibed the ancient hostility to his people and accepted all the ugly stereotypes of the brutally caricatured Jew then widely prevalent in Europe .. This was an expression of what the Germans call Selbsthass." (Padover Ibid; p. xiii)     The evidence for this is said to reside in his letters, and, especially in his early work. But when these are read, it is clear that what is objectionable to the Zionists, is simply the boldness of the following assertion: That to be free, and to truely and fully exercise civil rights, the Jew must renounce Jewishness, just as the Christian must renounce Christianity.

    Even the most antagonistic Zionists, such as Saul Padover, are forced to acknowledge, that Marx=s first published work on the AJewish Question@ which appeared in the Cologne Rheinische Zeitung=, in the summer of 1842, was a forthright defence of the Jews. At that time, Heinrich Hermes of the 'Kolnische Zeitung=, a Catholic paper, had attacked Jews. In this attack, Hermes denied that Jews had any rights to ACivil Equality@. Marx openly counter-attacked this in print. Following his defence of civil rights for the Jews, Marx told Arnold Ruge that he had been approached by local Jews, to put a petition on behalf of Jews to the Landtag (Diet) :

AJust now the chief of the local Israelites came to see me and asked me to forward a petition for the Jews to the Landtag (Diet) and I want to do it. Revolting (Widerlich) though the Israelite religion is to me, nevertheless Bauer=s opinion (In the Jewish Question) seems to me to be too abstract.@
(Marx; Letter to Ruge A; March 13th 1843; Cited Padover Introduction Ibid; p. Xxi.)
    The petition was successful, and marked the first time that a German parliament had granted AComplete equality of Jews in civil and political matters.@ Padover is forced to take note of this, but he deals with it, by simply dismissing it as: a Apolitical gesture@ taken by Marx@ in spite of Ahis revulsion for Judaism.@ But it is clear that Marx calls the AIsraelite religion@ revolting, not Jews themselves. In fact the whole of Marx=s work testifies to his determination to tear the veils that perpetuate slavery and enchainment. With Engels, Marx identified backward looking nationalisms and religion as narcotic-laden veils - Marx called a spade a spade. He is just as virulent about Christianity, about Islam, about Hindooism= and all religions. Indeed all these were means to disguise and veil the reality of the world. Hear Marx on the Hindoos=, and the Brahmins: AWe must not forget that.. that they restrained the human mind within the smallest possible compass, making it the unresisting tool of superstition, enslaving it beneath traditional rules, depriving it of all grandeur and historical energies. We must not forget the barbarian egotism.. the perpetuation of unspeakable cruelties, the massacre of the population of large towns.. this passive sort of existence evoked.. murder itself a religious rite in Hindostan...the little (Hindoo) communities were contaminated by distinctions of caste and by slavery.. they subjected man to external circumstances instead of elevating man to be the sovereign of circumstances.. they transformed a self-developing social state into a never changing natural destiny, .. brought about a brutalising worship of nature, exhibiting its degradation in the fact that Man the sovereign of nature fell down on his knees in adoration of Hanuman the monkey, and Sabbala the cow.@
(Marx.,"British Rule in India";: "Marx & Engels On Britain." Moscow; 1971; p.168. p171-172.)

AI share not the opinion of those who believe in a golden age of Hindostan... the mythological chronology of the Brahmin himself, places the commencement of Indian misery in an epoch even more remote than the Christian creation of the world@.
(Marx= The British Rule In India',Ibid. p.168)

    Who denies that Marx fought the religious vapours of the Brahmins? Just so, he fought the religious and pseudo-nationalist Zionist vapours. Neither of these fights, made him a anti-Indian racist, or somehow alienated= from Indian problems, as Padover would have us believe!

    What did Marx say On The Jewish Question?
    Marx only wrote two main articles that explicitly dealt with the Jews as a central theme. They both took the same essential line.
    Namely that:

    That the Jews in general, had found a niche in capitalist society, by acting as money lenders. Stripping away sanctimony, Marx therefore proclaimed that something else, besides religion, defined the Jews. In his first article, Marx contrasted the Aactual secular Jew@ with the ASabbath Jew@. Since the public role of he most prominent Jews was as money merchants, he concentrates on the Ahaggling@ and usurious life of the Jewish trader:

ALet us consider the actual secular Jew, not the Sabbath Jew as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew. Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of religion in the actual Jew. What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the world cult of the Jew? Schacer (Bargaining, haggling, or huckstering-Ed). What is his worldly god? Money! What actually was the foundation in and of itself, of the Jewish religion? Practical need, egoism. Hence the Jew=s monotheism, is in reality, the polytheism of many needs, a polytheism that makes even the toiler an object of divine law.. The god of practical need and self-interest is money. Money is the jealous god of Israel before whom no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of mankind-and converts them into commodities.. The god of the Jew has been secularized and has become the god of the world. The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange... What is contained abstractly in the Jewish religion-contempt for theory, for art, for history, for man as an end in himself - is the actual conscious standpoint and virtue of the money man.. The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the money-man in general.@
(On the Jewish Question - Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher=- Vol 3 Marx Collected Works; pp 146-74)
    Padover makes Marx into a mythical Christian loving and Jew hating person. But in reality Marx describes clearly, from where in his view, Christianity came from. It arose from Judaism: AChristianity arose of Judaism. It has again dissolved itself into Judaism. .. Christianity overcame real Judaism only in appearance, It was too noble, too spiritual to alienate the crudeness of practical need except by elevating it into the heavens. Christianity is the sublime thought of Judaism, and Judaism is the common practical application of Christianity; but this application could become universal only after Christianity as the compete religion had theoretically competed the alienation of man from himself and from nature.@
(Marx; On The Jewish Question=; p.191; in Padover Ibid).
    For Marx, it was necessary to emphasize the need to dissolve the religious fetters upon the Jews, and by so doing allow them to enter into the rest of society. The article ends with the words: AThe social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Jewishness@.
(Marx; A@The Holy Family@ (b) The Jewish Question No 1. The setting of the question. Volume 4; CW; Moscow; 1975; p. 87; also in Marx On The Jewish Question=; p.192; in Padover Ibid.)
    The second article was contained within a section of the AHoly Family@, which was a settling of accounts, by Marx and Engels, with the pre-Marxist ideologies in Germany as represented by Bruno Bauer, a member of a philosophical grouping known as Absolute Criticism.

    Bauer argued to deny civil rights to Jews, because like everyone else, they had no inborn ARights of Man@, no dogmatic= claim for this that over-rode everything else. The implication was that nothing was Aowed@ to the Jews. In an attack on the materialists, whom he names the Aspokesmen of the masses@, Bruno Bauer repudiates any Rights of Man=:

AHow thoughtless the spokesmen of the Masses are; they have God knows what a great opinion of themselves for supporting emancipation and the dogma of the rights of man=.
(Marx Karl: AThe Jewish Question No 1. The Setting of the Question. Part of AThe Holy Family@.  (1844); In Collected Works; Volume 4; Moscow; 1975; p. 87).
    Marx replies that the abstract ARights of Man@ are irrelevant as compared to the much more real, fundamental and practical assertions of the inborn rights of man to Afish, hunt etc@, as had been pointed out by Charles Fourier: AAs for the rights of man= it has been proved to Herr Bruno (On the Jewish Question - Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher=- Vol 3 M CW- pp 146-74) that it is he himself, not the spokesmen of the Mass, who has misunderstood and dogmatically mishandled the essence of those rights. Compared to his discovery that the Rights of Man are not inborn=- a discovery which has been made innumerable times in England during the last 40-odd years - Fourier=s assertions that the right to fish, hunt, etc are inborn rights of men is one of genius.@
(Marx Karl: AThe Jewish Question No 1. Part of AThe Holy Family@; Ibid; p.87-89).
    One of Bruno Bauer=s assertions, had been that it was only to be expected, and indeed was quite natural, that a Christian state would not enshrine rights for Jews: AThe Christian state having as its vital principle a definite religion, cannot allow adherents of another particular religion .. Complete equality with its own social estates.=
(Bauer cited In Marx AThe Holy Family@ Ibid; p. 88.)
    Marx in reply, points out that the Christian states render this whole question meaningless, since they do not even allow civil equality to their Christian their Aown social estates@- to use Bauer=s phrase, to even non-Jews: AThe Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher (showed) that the state of social estates and of exclusive Christianity is not only an incomplete state but an incomplete Christian state... Absolute Criticism still regards the abolition of religion atheism, as the condition for civil equality... It has therefore not yet acquired any deeper insight into the essence of the state.@
(Marx Karl: AThe Jewish Question No 1. Part of AThe Holy Family@; Ibid; p. 88)
    For further detail, the interested reader can consult the Appendix (Via Table of Contents) for a detailed annotation of Marx=s article. Although those two articles are the basic and longest exposition on the nature of the Jews by Marx, an isolated later description of the Jews by Marx is often quoted, as another example of Marx=s alleged Aanti-Semitism@. Here Marx discussed the historical role of the Jews, and he was equally graphic as in his earlier remarks. Marx=s vivid phrasing - AJews in the pores of society@ - offends Zionists. It seems that this image of the Jews who were not fully visible in the middle of society, Marx painted by Marx, is somehow a racist= view of Marx. But in what context does Marx place this image? Marx is talking about trading for commodities in the ancient world, where the dominant relations of production are not commodity based. Marx asserts that Jewish trading is ancient in its history: AIn the modes of production of ancient Asia, of Antiquity etc; we find that the conversion of products into commodities, and hence the existence of men as mere producers of commodities plays a subordinate role, which however increases in importance as the ancient communities approach closer and closer to the stage of their decline. Trading nations proper exist in the ancient world only in its interstices, like the Gods of Epicurius in Intermundia, or like the Jew in the pores of Polish society. These ancient social organisms of production are extraordinarily more simple and transparent than the bourgeois ones, but they are based either on the immaturity of the individual man, who has not yet severed the umbilical cord that unites him naturally with his own species, or on direct master-servant relationships. They are conditioned by a lower stage of development of the productive forces of labour and the correspondingly encompassing relationships of men within their material generating processes, and hence to each other and to nature. This actual narrowness is realised ideally in the ancient worship of nature and in folk religions. The religious reflex of the real world can vanish altogether only when the relationships of practical everyday life offer men daily visible and reasonable relationships to each other and to nature. A
(Marx K; Capital@ Volume 1; Chapter 1; Section 4; Cited by Padover Ibid; p. 137.)
    Well, is this unfair? Marx is simply pointing out that Jews were not given full civic right in then Poland. There is another dimension, relating to the Jewish concentration in trading. Perhaps Jews were not important traders in the ancient world, and perhaps commodity trading was a more main-stream and prominent feature in antiquity?
    But, no evidence to contradict Marx, is shown by those such as Padover who critique Marx here.
    The very useful function of providing loose monies for loan, had been the prerogative of the Jew, right up until the Reformation. Until then, loans were made only in the interstices= of society. But the increasing need of capital, fueled a demand for the practice of charging interest, or usury=. This became a root cause of the Reformation, the vast social movement that upturned traditional Catholicism, and is usually portrayed as the rise of the Protestant religion. But the underlying reasons for the Reformation are still often overlooked. The drawback of Catholicism, one the Protestant version of Christianity could overcome for society, was the lack of money trading. Under Catholicism but not under Protestantism, money trading by loans (known as usury) was forbidden as avarice: AThe historical background.. Consisted of the body of social theory stated & implicit, which was the legacy of the Middle Ages. The formal teaching was derived form the Bible, the works of the Fathers & Schoolmen, the canon law and its commentators, and have been popularized.@
(Tawney R.H. AReligion & The Rise of Capitalism@; London; 1975; p. 28)
    The condemnation of usury supported a land owning feudal society. Pope Innocent IV argued: AIf usury were general, men would not give thought to the cultivation of their land except when they could do ought else, and so there would be so great a famine that all the poor would die of hunger..@
Tawney R.H. AReligion & The Rise of Capitalism@; London; 1975; p. 56

@Early Councils had forbidden usury to be taken by the clergy. The Councils of the 12th & 13th Centuries forbid it to be taken by clergy or laity, and laid down rules for dealing with offenders... The Legislation of the Councils of Lyons (1274) and of Viene (1312) ... re-enacted the measures laid down by the third Lateran Council (1175) & supplemented them by rules which virtually made the money-lender an outlaw.@
Tawney R.H. AReligion & The Rise of Capitalism@; London; 1975; p. 58.

    Luther=s views largely echoed traditional Catholicism. But Calvinism, in contrast, was unlike Lutheranism - it was largely an urban movement that reflected the needs of the growing capitalist society. Calvin could write:     There was an intense frustration, by all capitalists and traders, inside the developing capitalist Middle Ages society of developing nations. Even in Florence, the greatest mercantile centre in the Middle Ages, the patent nonsense of the old laws, was shown by the simultaneous hypocrisy of banning usury, whilst depending upon imported Jews to conduct it: AFlorence was the financial capital of medieval Europe; but even at Florence, the secular authorities fined bankers right and left for usury in the middle of the 14th Century, and fifty years later first prohibited credit transaction altogether, and then imported Jews to conduct a business forbidden to Christians.@
Tawney R.H. AReligion & The Rise of Capitalism@; London; 1975; p. 49.
    So there was a societal need and drive, to adopt the mores of Calvinism. Following this, the social utility of Judaism to a developing capitalist society diminished. Large scale pogroms would follow the rise of capitalism, which had now ensured its own secure form of usury. (This is a very truncated synopsis. Since Marx=s views on this question encompass the whole place of religion in civil society, we carry a more detailed view of this in Appendix 1).

In Conclusion: Marx stripped bare of camouflage, the vice in which modern workers of all colours and creed were held - capitalist relations. This meant the dissolution of religious faith. Naturally, religiously biased ideologues, like Zionists, will find this offensive. Too bad! We next examine how Marx=s views were echoed by Lenin and Stalin on this question.

          -ON TO: APPENDIX