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RUSSIA: Jews and Communism

Alberto Gutierrez gave a detailed account of the role of the Jews in Communism. I said that I would of course publish a correction if any of his facts were wrong. Cameron Sawyer replies: "Well, the facts are all correct, and in fact they do not contradict anything I wrote. But again, so what? When Stalin with his Georgian gang outmaneuvered Trotsky to take power after Lenin s death, nearly all the Old Bolsheviks eventually got liquidated and the predominant Jewish role in the Soviet regime was eliminated. Later, the Soviets practiced fairly systematic repression of Jews, including numerus clausus or even total exclusion from some educational institutions or positions in society. This continued right through the Gorbachev era and was eliminated only under Yeltsin.

Mr. Gutierrez writes: any serious discussion of communism and Marxism has to take into consideration the fact that most founders of Russian communism were Jewish . I ask: Why? What is the significance of the ethnicity (not religious persuasion, as the Old Bolsheviks were all atheists) of those people? Jewishness was obviously not inherent in the Soviet regime, as the history after the first seven years reveals. So why do we care? Are you as much interested in the predominance of Georgians in the Soviet regime in the late 20 s? Is the Georgianness of Beria relevant in some particular way? (Beria was a Mingrel, by the way, so the ethnic question is even more complicated.)

This is a boring and pointless line of thought. A much more interesting connection between Jews and Communism are the striking similarities between the Marxist theory of capitalism, and the anti-capitalist rhetoric, and medieval anti-Semitism (compare Marx s On the Jewish Question with Luther s On the Jews and their Lies). The Communist Manifesto might even have been partially plagiarized (or at least directly inspired) from earlier anti-Semitic texts by Martin Luther. See:

Here is an interesting passage: In medieval Christian thought, hatred of capitalism was closely mixed with anti-Semitism, due to Jews' involvement in banking, money-lending, and trade. The famous Protestant reformer Martin Luther, for example, wrote that: "[T]here is on earth no greater enemy of man, after the Devil, than a gripe-money and usurer, for he wants to be God over all men... Usury is a great, huge monster, like a werewolf... And since we break on the wheel and behead highwaymen, murderers, and housebreakers, how much more ought we to break on the wheel and kill... hunt down, curse, and behead all usurers!"

What Marx did was to update and reinvigorate the slumbering anti-capitalist impulse, combining it with Hegelian philosophy and a smattering of Classical economics. To an important and often overlooked extent, Marx merely repeatedly medieval Christian accusations:

What is the profane basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest.

What is the worldly cult of the Jew? Huckstering What is his worldly god? Money.

Very well: then in emancipating itself from huckstering and money, and thus from real and practical Judaism, our age would emancipate itself...

The god of the Jews has been secularized and has become the god of this world. The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jews. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange. On the Jewish Question

Aside from invective laced with anti-Semitic undertones, Marx made several specific claims about the evils of capitalism.

Capitalism drives workers' wages down to the subsistence level. "The average price of wage-labour is the minimum wage, i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence, which is absolutely requisite to keep the labourer in bare existence as a labourer." (Manifesto of the Communist Party) While Marx lived and wrote during a era when the standard of living of workers was rising at unprecedented rates in the world's capitalist centers in Britain, the United States, France, and Germany. Instead of noting these remarkable advances and trying to figure out how to magnify them as much as possible, Marx simply denied that improvement was occurring. He was not so blind as to deny that capitalism brought vast economic progress; rather, he repeatedly denied that any of this economic progress improved the lot of anyone but a small minority of exploiting bourgeoisie.]

And see: It s quite another point, but why does Alberto Gutierrez RH:
From this discussion it appears that all the major religions--Judaism, Christianity and Islam- condemn raw capitalism. There were exceptions such as the Calvinists. Someone should write a book on Religions and capitalism. I think Alberto Gutierrez meant that Kerensky led a revolution (of which he approved) and that his regime was destroyed by a counter-revolution. A "coup" suggests merely a change of leadership. Both revolutions were much more than that.

Ronald Hilton - 10.25.03