Andre Glucksmann
The Master Thinkers

Identifying, like Hegel, the Jewish question with the question of private property, the young Marx remains logical in turning private property into a new Jewish question: the property-owner will be expropriated so that society may recover its coherence, whatever is private will be driven out so that the world may again be common, communist—a world of 'associated producers,' as he was later to put it. By denouncing 'the chimerical nationality of the Jew' as 'the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general,' the young Jew Marx Hegelianized, and simply passed his entrance examination for what he later spoke of as the cafes of Berlin.

Perhaps he bought this right of entry extremely dear, since he never ceased to pay instalments on it. 'The Jew has emancipated himself in a Jewish manner, not only because he has acquired financial power, but also because, through him and also apart from him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the practical spirit of the Christian nations' (On the Jewish Question). Marx, on the contrary, emancipated himself in the German manner, that is, he never stopped emancipating himself from the allegedly Jewish manner of emancipation. His critique of that Jewish manner became a critique of political economy, and money, as the 'world power,' was to be denounced as Capital, giving its name to his major work.

It was not the cafes of Berlin that he entered, but, through them, the closed world of the master thinkers, which he never left. We sense here the origin of the modern condemnation of the Jews. Is it from this beginning that we get the identification of the march of the wanderers around the world and the world market of capital? Who begins to confuse the Jew with money if it is not the state, enlightened in the Hegelian manner, which sees in these frontier-crossers one and the same danger, that of its own decomposition? If the Jewish question and the question of Capital fit together so precisely, is this not because they conceal one and the same unspoken question, that of the state?

Is it really communism that Marx counterposes to the power of private property? Or is it merely the public domain—nationalization, the power of the state? The chapter on the state which Marx planned to write is missing, as though by chance, from Capital. Is it a matter of chance if, focusing all hatreds upon individuals, from the Jew to the property-owner, the state gets itself forgotten and escapes any challenge?

Why do the Western elites take two centuries to see the state as the biggest property-owner? Because all condemnations of private property were levelled in the name of the public spirit, in the name of that same state! Marx shifted hatred of the Jew on to hatred of money. The Nazis shifted it back. Whether the movement be forward or backward along the rails of hatred, it is the modern state that provides the steam.

  The World was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow,

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Through Eden took their solitary way.