[OPE-L:6490] Re: Re: Marx and the bible

From: paul bullock (paulbullock@ebms-ltd.in2home.co.uk)
Date: Fri Feb 01 2002 - 07:07:17 EST

    I add a couple of notes here. Overall you have unearthed  nothing much to blink at, although I add a personal view of the use of the word Nigger, for the reflection of American and younger English Colleagues.
    From: gerald_a_levy <gerald_a_levy@msn.com>
    To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
    Date: 31 January 2002 13:22
    Subject: [OPE-L:6481] Re: Marx and the bible
    Paul B wrote in [6480]:
    Marx was not an anti semite. He was an athiest. He objected to religions on rational grounds. His barbs against Christianity were also in the same vein. One should be careful not to mix up the issue, it is as dangerous as confusing anti-Zionism with racism.
    Jerry responds
    It is possible to be both an atheist and an anti-Semite:
    individuals are often bundles of  inconsistencies and 
    Comments added by Paul to Jerry's references.
    On Marx and anti-Semitism:
    Marx to Engels 2/25/59
    Marx refers to 'the little Jew  Braun'...the expression is used to poke fun/(nickname) at Lassalle, and is used 3 times in the letter about his work and Marx's correspondance with  him... nevertheless Lassalles work on Hereclitus.. .. is described as 'better than anything the democrats could boast of'.
    Marx to Antoinette Philips  3/24/61
    refers to the  'nastily Jewish physiognamy' of  ' the most ugly creature I ever saw in my life'.. Fraulein Ludmilla Assing in a description of an evening meal at Lasalle's place..'a little monster'  clearly an unattractive personality. Marx's letters are really very effective descriptions. Lasalle is not in Marx's bad books at this time.
    Marx to Engels 7/30/62  (note racism also)
    Here Lasalle gets it again... he is a 'Jewish nigger' and provided Marx with  'one of our nigger's great discoveries'.....and who thinks he ought to live the life of a 'Jewish Baron' etc etc who Marx is glad to see the back of... and the rest of the letter describes Lassalle in very amusing terms.
    It is very important to remember that the word Nigger in Victorian England, and indeed right up to the post ww2 period in Britain, simply meant black, or dark... a la painters' colour 'nigger black'. perhaps a distance was also intended in the way middle classes and above used it. But amongst working people it was straight description. A african, or even more accurately, a West African. As you know Marx was nicknamed 'the Moor'  : was this racist? even  in our contemporary sense? 
    The influence of the American use of the word nigger... as a term of deep abuse.... entirely bound up with slavery, post slavery, and the particular racism of that State, started to  become clear to British workers firstly through the experience of WW2, and then to my generation via the TV / Cinema in the late 50's. After that the word 'black' then came to be used instead. As a white rural working class child from a white county who never saw a 'black' person until I was 11, ( then only a senior Indian medical registrar in the NHS who had a much higher social status than my parents). I was corrected by my father about this time for refering to a 'black man'...a frown, and 'don't speak like that'.  With all of my schooI friends were horrified at the scenes we saw on TV from the States after this period..... Alabama, sheriff Clark(e) etc... There was  a very different mentality among working people even up to so recently (the 50's) in Britain. We must I think try to understand how, and these were very rarely in any case,  Marx might have used the terms in question in his time. (He uses it in Capital... and latter day ignoramuses have accordingly acused him of racism!)
    To add to this a little, I can only think of one Sunday School hymn at that time that refers to colours as such..'yellow, red and black and white'...all are equal in God's sight'  etc.  Indeed for Americans it is also very important that they see that if the term 'black' was used in Britain to describe a 'nigger', it was regarded as quite shocking by ordinary working people up until at least the 1950's and certainly considered disciminatory. The exact opposite of the American use. Thereafter the common term converted to the American or other countries  use. This coincides with the immigration into the UK of West Indians (the Caribbean). Racism was not necessary in Britain to divide the working class, up to that time. The Press and State really get to work on this from the mid 50's onwards.
    There is a deep division in experiences in the 2 countries. Usually 'people of colour' could and would be refered to as coming from specific countries of the Empire. Discrimination as such wasn't even a real issue in Britain since so very few non Brits lived in the country until the twentieth century.In Britain class was the definite issue, the sort of thing Americans noted very strongly. Race becomes a domestic issue much later in Britain. Of course within the African Empire, Indian Empire etc racism was part of the system, but 'domestic' Brits didn't have to face this openly at home at that time.(Of course researchers are trying hard to show that black communities have been around in Britain since after Ralegh, but all that has been shown is that there weren't really that many at all, located in the key ports ).
    Marx to Engels  8/21/75
    he refers to ' a crafty little jew' who climbed into Marx's railway carriage, who laments to Marx over being taken in by a trader.  I assume he wasn't a crafty 'tall' Jew, and so Marx wasn't misrepresenting him,  for  the account shows he was consciously crafty. The description seems as fair as Marx's rendering of the man's accent (apparently cockney... perhaps accented). How on earth this is anti semetic beats me. It is a Dickensian portrait. 
    Marx to Engels  8/25/79
    Ramsgate ' Place is full of Jews and fleas'. This is a gratuitous remark.  Given his own father's break from the religion and culture, Marx's experience no doubt occassioned a reference that we might not have made. Why should we expect tolerance of  any religion in such a man ? I find it difficult not to mutter when I see  religion stalking the world in any guise. Marx's private expressions of this sort  were so few that one would have had to have been a saint's saint to have not made the occasional  dismissive/irritated remark.
    Marx to Jenny Longuet 4/11/81
    I can find nothing here (except the lovely description of Kautsky).
    In solidarity, Jerry

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