I pointed out in my recent article concerning the debate around Karl Marx’s authorship of an obscure article titled ‘The Russian Loan’ that was published in the New York Daily Tribune on 4th January 1856 that despite claims by modern authors such as Kevin Anderson, Hans-Jurgen Bochinski, Ute Emmrich, Martin Hundt and Manfred Neuhaus that Marx wasn’t the person responsible (1): There is independent evidence in the form of a definite statement by his (favourite) daughter Eleanor Marx that he did indeed write ‘The Russian Loan’ as well as two additional anti-jewish articles in the New York Daily Tribune titled ‘The Standing of European Houses’ and ‘The Loan-Mongers of Europe’ . (2)
The problem for proponents of the idea that Marx did not write ‘The Standing of European Houses’ , ‘The Loan-Mongers of Europe’ and ‘The Russian Loan’ is that their claim that Marx couldn’t have written these is based upon ‘textual analysis’ that to my knowledge has never actually been performed. Bochinski, Emmrich, Hundt and Neuhaus merely state that this is based upon their ‘textual analysis’ as an aside but never cite where they have done said analysis. (3) While Anderson just cites Bochinski, Emmrich, Hundt and Neuhaus as his authority to dismiss Marx’s authorship of ‘The Russian Loan’ . (4)
I propose by contrast to look at the text of ‘The Russian Loan’ and compare it to Marx’s 1843 work ‘On the Jewish Question’ which is the major point of reference in any discussion of Marx’s views on jews and Judaism.
The Russian Loan’ seems to use extremely ‘anti-Semitic’ language when the author writes for example that:
‘Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew.’
‘A handful of Jews to ransack pockets.’
‘Stieglitz, who is a German Jew intimately connected with all his co-religionists in the loan-mongering trade, has done the rest.’
‘Stieglitz being one of the free-masonry of Jews, which has existed in all ages.’
Think for a moment about what the author is saying however and it is far less extreme in so far as the author of ‘The Russian Loan’ is declaring that the jews act like a secret society (i.e. ‘the free-masonry of Jews’ that is ‘intimately connected with all coreligionists’ ) who dominate ‘the loan-mongering trade’ and seek to ‘ransack pockets’ and ‘back tyrants’ . The author is making an explicitly anti-capitalist critique of high finance and drawing room agreements between capitalists and tyrants that profit both parties, which we know is how Marx conceptualized the world as early as his 1848 ‘Communist Manifesto’ . (5)
This conception of the capitalist world as a money-driven conspiratorial commercial network working hand in glove with those Marx believed to be tyrants should not be that surprising. Since Marx explicitly names Prince Metternich of Austria as being one of those being funded by these money-driven conspirators (6) and who were the primary funders of Prince Metternich but the Rothschild family. (7) Marx even referred to a similar Rothschild-led conspiracy by bankers and high financiers in an article that he published in the Neue Oder-Zeitung in August 1855 (8) only a few months before ‘The Russian Loan’s’ similar thesis was published in early January of 1856 in the New York Daily Tribune.
Thus we can already see that Marx’s authorship of ‘The Russian Loan’ is not only plausible but likely given his daughter’s attribution of the article to him and the documented fact that he expressed a similar thesis to ‘The Russian Loan’ in print only several months before the article was printed in the New York Daily Tribune. This is further confirmed by looking at the thesis of ‘The Russian Loan’ when the author writes that:
The real work is done by Jews, and can only be done by them, as they monopolize the machinery of the loanmongering trade by concentrating their energies upon the barter-trade in securities, and the changing of money and negotiating bills in a great measure arising therefrom. Take Amsterdam, for instance, a city harbouring many of the worst descendants of the Jews.
The smartest highwayman in the Abruzzi is not better posted up about the locale of the hard cash in a traveller’s valise or pocket than those Jews about any loose capital in the hands of a trade.
These small Jewish agents draw their supplies from the big Jewish houses, such as that of Hollander and Lebren, Konigswater, Raphael, Stern, Sichel, Bischoffsheim, Amsterdam, Ezekiels of Rotterdam. Hollander and Lehren are of the Portuguese sect of Jews, and practice a great ostensible devotion to the religion of their race. Lehren, like the great London Jew Sir Moses Montefiore, has made many sacrifices for those that still linger in Jerusalem. His office, near the Amstel, in Amsterdam, is one of the most picturesque imaginable. Crowds of these Jewish agents assemble there every day, together with numerous Jewish theologians and around its doors are congregated all sorts and manners of Armenian, Jerusalem, barbaresque, and Polish beggars, in long robes and Oriental turbans.
The next Jewish loan-mongering concern is that of Konigswater, who came from a Jewish colony in Furth in Bavaria, opposite Nuremberg, whose 10,000 inhabitants are all Jews with some Roman Catholic exceptions. The Konigswaters have houses at Frankfort, Paris, Vienna and Amsterdam, and the other over that of Brussels and of Paris.
As far as the seventeen million roubles assigned to Holland are concerned, although brought out under the name of Hope, they will at once go into the hands of these Jews, who will, through their various branch houses, find a market abroad, while the small Jew agents and brokers create a demand for them at home. These do these loans, which are a curse to the people, a ruin to the holders, and a danger to the governments, become a blessing to the houses of the children of Judah. This Jew organization of loan-mongers is as dangerous to the people as the aristocratic organization of landowners. It principally sprung up in Europe since Rothschild was made a Baron by Austria, and enriched by the money earned by the Hessians in fighting the American Revolution. The fortunes amassed by these loan-mongers are immense, but the wrongs and sufferings thus entailed on the people and the encouragement thus afford to their oppressors still remain to be told.
We have sufficiently shown how the Amsterdam Jews, through their machinery at home and abroad, will absorb in a very little time the seventeen million roubles put at the disposal of Hope.
Rothschilds’ special agent at Berlin, Simon Bleichroder, and their occasional agents, the Veits, will very likely take a portion on speculation, and sell it with a profit to the small Jew fry of Berlin, Hanover, Magdeburgh, Brunswick and Cassel, while the Frankfort Jews will supply the small fry of Darmstadt, Mannheim, Carlsruhe, Stuttgardt, Ulm, Augsburg and Munich. This small fry again distribute the stock among still smaller fry, until some honest farmer of Suabia, some substantial manufacturer of Crefeld, or some dowager Countess of Isenburg has the honor of becoming the permanent creditor of the Czar by locking the stock up as a permanent investment. The Jew jobbers of Breslau, Ratisbor, Cracow and Posen, the Frankels of Warsaw, Benedick of Stockholm, Hambro of Copenhagen, Magnus of Berlin, with his extensive Polish constituency, Jacobsen of the same city and Ries and Heine of Hamburg, both houses of great influence in Jew financial circle, especially Heine, will each and disseminate a goodly amount among their multitudinous customers and bring within reach of all the northern section of Europe. In this wise any amount, however large, is soon absorbed. It must be borne in mind, that besides the local and provincial speculations, there is the immense stock-jobbing machinery between the various European gathering points of the loan-mongering confederation now all connected by telegraph communications, which, of course, vastly facilitate all such operations. Moreover, almost all the Jew loan-mongers in Europe are connected by family ties.
Like the Rothschilds and the Greeks, the loan-mongering Jews derive much of their strength from these family relations, as these, in addition to their lucre affinities, give a compactness and unity to their operations which insure their success.
The fact that 1855 years ago Christ drove the Jewish money-changers out of the temple, and that the money-changers of our age enlisted on the side of tyranny happen again chiefly to be Jews is perhaps no more than a historical coincidence. The loan-mongering Jews of Europe do only on a large and more obnoxious scale what many others do on one smaller and less significant. But it is only because the Jews are so strong that it is timely and expedient to expose and stigmatize.
Reading the above quotes from ‘The Russian Loan’ it is obvious that the writer’s thesis isn’t that jews are the problem per se, but rather that they have formed a network (i.e. ‘a free-masonry’ ) of bankers centred around big jewish families - the Rothschilds being named as one – who then trickle down their loans to less powerful jewish bankers and loan sharks who then sell them on to the non-jews peasantry and workers. We can also see that this jewish network is held together by Judaism itself that is founded the comments about how ‘Jewish theologians’ [= Rabbis] assemble at the doors of powerful jewish financiers every day for example.
Both of these are factual statements that jews don’t appear to like and therefore are calling ‘anti-Semitic’ as a form of intellectual hand waving, because historically rabbis were very much ‘owned’ by financially powerful jews within their area (9) and jews did operate as a money-lending network (10) that was most famously expressed in the creation of the ‘Port Jew’ . (11) These statements are not ‘anti-Semitic’ but rather see Judaism and therefore jewish identity itself as the problem that is helping to create this ‘free-masonry’ of jews to quote the wording of the author.
Compare that to Marx’s comments in his 1843 ‘On the Jewish Question’ :
What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.
Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time.
An organization of society which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would make the Jew impossible. His religious consciousness would be dissipated like a thin haze in the real, vital air of society. On the other hand, if the Jew recognizes that this practical nature of his is futile and works to abolish it, he extricates himself from his previous development and works for human emancipation as such and turns against the supreme practical expression of human self-estrangement.
We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time, an element which through historical development – to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed – has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily begin to disintegrate.
In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.
Is not Marx essentially saying exactly the same thing as the author of ‘The Russian Loan’ but using less journalistic rhetoric and adopting a more philosophical veneer in his commentary?
Both ‘The Russian Loan’ and ‘On the Jewish Question’ argue that jews are currently ‘hucksters’ / ‘loan-mongers’ and seek to defraud their clients, but that the problem is that they are a secretive society held together by a religion that is focused on money - which isn’t an unjust suggestion – (12) and are also in agreement that to destroy capitalism one has to eliminate Judaism and thus the financial power of the jews. That isn’t an ‘anti-Semitic’ comment either. Since it defines jewishness not biologically but rather as a religion (which is the defining characteristic of anti-Semitism) and therefore it is merely opposed to Judaism not jews as a nation/ethnicity/racial group.
Thus we can see that comparing the text of ‘The Russian Loan’ to Karl Marx’s other writings – including his 1843 ‘On the Jewish Question’ – supports Eleanor Marx’s statement that her father had told her that he had written ‘The Russian Loan’ as well as the companion articles ‘The Standing of European Houses’ and ‘The Loan-Mongers of Europe’ .
- Karl Marx, Edward Aveling, Eleanor Marx Aveling (Eds.), 1897, ‘The Eastern Question’ , 1st Edition, Swan Sonnenschein: London, p. vi
- Hans-Jurgen Bochinski, Ute Emmrich, Martin Hundt, Manfred Neuhaus, 2001, ‘Karl Marx Friedrich Engels Gesamtausgabe’ , Vol. 14, 1st Edition, Akademie Verlag: Berlin, p. 903
- Kevin Anderson, 2016, ‘Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Non-Western Societies’ , 2nd Edition, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, p. 262, n. 18
- George Windholz, 2001, ‘Karl Marx’s Paranoid Ideation in the Communist Manifesto’ , Imagination, Cognition and Personality, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 257-273
- Ibid, p. 257
- Niall Ferguson, 2001, ‘Metternich and the Rothschilds: “A Dance with Torches on Powder Kegs”?’ , The Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 19-54
- Edmund Silberner, 1997, ‘Was Marx an Anti-Semite?’ , p. 382 in Ezra Mendelsohn (Ed.), 1997, ‘Essential Papers on the Jews and the Left’ , 1st Edition, New York University Press: New York
- A Cohen, 1937, ‘Jewish Homiletics’ , 1st Edition, M. L. Cailingold: London, p. 30
- For example see the comments of Barnet Litvinoff, 1969, ‘A Peculiar People: Inside the Jewish World Today’ , 1st Edition, Weidenfeld and Nicolson: London, pp. 12-13 and Jerry Muller, 2011, ‘Capitalism and the Jews’ , 1st Edition, Princeton University Press: Princeton, pp. 15-71
- See for example Lois Dubin, 1999, ‘The Port Jews of Habsburg Trieste: Absolutist Politics and Enlightenment Culture’ , 1st Edition, Stanford University Press: Stanford
- Cohen, Op. Cit., p. 13