Jenny von Westphalen Marx

Image: Engin Akyurt


The presence of Marx's wife

“The weight of past generations haunts the new ones like a nightmare” (Karl Marx).

We Marxists have something to be proud of. Jenny von Westphalen Marx wrote the most important works of revolutionary socialism. She gave birth to many children, lost many others, and despite the tragedy, she was an exemplary woman in political militancy in favor of revolutionary socialism. She sheltered the Communards at her home in London, the refugees from the Paris Commune. She didn't even have bread to eat and give to her children, but she gave it to the poor exiles. She loved her husband unconditionally. She had a bit of her aristocratic background: she was from the gentry, coming from civil servants.

Her husband, however, was imperfect. Throughout her life, she used several racist expressions. She referred to the socialist Lassale as a "black Jew".

While Jenny was giving birth to one of his darling daughters, Marx fell in love with the maid, and forced her to conceive the child anonymously (later adopted by Engels).

What was Karl Marx's problem?

The problem was the Oedipus Complex with his Jewish mother.

On both his mother's and father's sides, Marx is descended from rabbinic dynasties. It happens that on the paternal side, the father, for reasons of opportunity, converts to Christianity. The presence of this origin is observed in the following passage: “Marx was converted to Christianity when he was six years old. His father had converted a year before his birth; his mother was to convert a year after his own conversion of him, so that when we address the question of Marx's Jewish identity it is clearly not within any theological or ethnic definition” (GILMAN, 1988, p. 275).

And it's a successful conversion. Both father and son believe that they have, in fact, converted to the Prussian spirit. Germanic Prussia was above all: “Karl Marx's father, Heinrich Marx, born Heschel Marx, was not atypical of the acculturated Jews who saw conversion to Christianity as the natural next step in entering German society. He had strong emotional ties to his sense of “Germanness,” opposing Napoleon and supporting the German position during the “War of Liberation.” This identification with the German society was heightened by the family's life in Trier, a city perched on the linguistic border between German, French, and Dutch. Of all the cities in Loter, the ancient settlement of German Jewry, it was the area in which the level of awareness of the political and social implication of language was the highest. Marx's language of him as a child was German. His father's identification of him was with the Prussian state and thus with the German language and its concomitant rhetoric” (GILMAN, 1984, p. 276).

The mother barely knew German. She wrote all the letters to her son with Yiddishisms and a complete lack of knowledge of the mother tongue. This meant that the perfect, Hegelian works that Jenny typed were ideologically flawed. When she criticized the anti-Semite Bauer for denying civic emancipation to the Jews, and Marx defending it, she did not fail to note the spirit of materialism of the mother religion.

Even in the maximum work that Jenny typed, The capital, there are ideological errors. The beautiful Aristotelian-Hegelian theory of the commodity is somewhat committed to a remnant of Marx's rage towards his maternal heritage. The commodity speaks a language of crooks, merchants, ostjuden (Polish Jews).

Good thing we had Jenny and all her daughters (four beautiful Jenny) to be XNUMX% proud of revolutionary socialism.

*Ari Marcelo Solon is a professor at the Faculty of Law at USP. Author, among others, of books, Paths of philosophy and science of law: German connection in the development of justice (Prisms).


GILMAN, Sander L. Karl Marx and the Secret Language of Jews. Modern Judaism, v. 4, no. 3, p. 275-294, Oct. 1984.

VON KROSIGK, Lutz Schwerin. Jenny Marx. Liebe und Leid im Schatten von Karl Marx. Wuppertal: Staats-Verlag, 1976.


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