There has been significant interest from the political right in an obscure article named ‘The Russian Loan’ that was published in the New York Daily Tribune on 4th January 1856. (1) This is largely because this piece has been attributed to Karl Marx, which along with his 1844 ‘On the Jewish Question’ would be one of the father of Marxism’s rare public forays into the subject of jews and Judaism. Naturally enough this has been seized upon by a plethora of histrionic illiterati to bolster the dubious claim that Marx was ‘anti-Semitic’ , (2) which makes as much sense as the charge that he was a ‘Satanist’ . (3)
I decided to go in search of the evidence that this was indeed Karl Marx and to be quite honest my significant collection of biographies of the life and thought of Karl Marx are almost completely silent on ‘The Russian Loan’ . The most sensible discussion of its authenticity can actually been found on the WikiTalk page on Karl Marx (4) and I discovered to my surprise that the same claim by Kevin Anderson in his recent book ‘Marx at the Margins’ that – I paraphrase - ‘based upon textual analysis this cannot be attributed to Karl Marx’ (5) had been noted and the WikiTalk author has also looked up Anderson’s citation for this.
This is a short and unsupported dismissal of the article’s attribution to Karl Marx found in the 2001 German edition of Marx’s ‘Collected Works’ , because Marx doesn’t use ‘stock market jews’ and ‘jewish banking houses’ as rhetorical points elsewhere in his corpus. It therefore couldn’t have possibly been written by Marx. (6)
The fact that two similar articles – ‘The Standing of European Houses’ and ‘The Loan-Mongers of Europe’ - were published – and has also been attributed to Marx by some – (7) around the same time in the New York Daily Tribune and that they were all directly attributed to Marx by his (favourite) daughter Eleanor Marx based upon Karl Marx’s anecdotal claims to have written them. (8) This isn’t proof positive that ‘The Standing of European Houses’ , ‘The Loan-Mongers of Europe’ and ‘The Russian Loan’ were written by Karl Marx.
However we do know that the authorship of these articles was attributed to him by his daughter allegedly by his own statements to that effect and the claim of Bochinski et al that ‘textual analysis’ – which seems less an analysis and more a case of dismissive hand waving away of ideologically problematic texts that has been misrepresented by Anderson – ‘disproves’ this is weak at best and unfounded at worst.
Therefore there is a decent – albeit inconclusive positive case – for attributing ‘The Russian Loan’ to Karl Marx. Since as Silberer correctly points out a similar article by Marx attacking the Rothschilds appeared in the Neue Oder-Zeitung in August, 1855. (9) It is therefore reasonable to suggest that Karl Marx was quite probably the author of ‘The Russian Loan’ .
- For example: http://awesternheart.blogspot.com/2009/05/karl-marx-on-russian-loan-it-was-in-his.html and https://www.theepochtimes.com/karl-marx-the-racist_2217122.html
- See my article: http://semiticcontroversies.blogspot.com/2017/04/was-karl-marx-satanist.html
- 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
- Hans-Jurgen Bochinski, Ute Emmrich, Martin Hundt, Manfred Neuhaus, 2001, ‘Karl Marx Friedrich Engels Gesamtausgabe’ , Vol. 14, 1st Edition, Akademie Verlag: Berlin, p. 903
- Ibid, p. 902; also see Edmund Silberner, 1997, ‘Was Marx an Anti-Semite?’ , pp. 382-383 in Ezra Mendelsohn (Ed.), 1997, ‘Essential Papers on the Jews and the Left’ , 1st Edition, New York University Press: New York
- Karl Marx, Edward Aveling, Eleanor Marx Aveling (Eds.), 1897, ‘The Eastern Question’ , 1st Edition, Swan Sonnenschein: London, p. vi
- Silberer, Op. Cit., p. 382