Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Questioning, of the Jewish Question

This literature was by no means easy to grasp upon first glance. I was reading over it, and my initial reaction was that it was anti-semitism preaching at its pinnacle. However after further prodding of the work i started to interpret it very differently. Marx was not alienating the Jewish people, (well he was actually) but he was using their history as an example in civil society. The jewish people have always been comprised of contradictory requests in the endeavors of their practice. Bauer pointed out that Jewish people wanted emancipation both religiously and politically, however they were emancipating themselves from everyone else, so where do we stand to emancipate ourselves from them and their practice? He looked at it as the jews wanting to have their cake and eat it to. He would clearly have been a man to think that these contradictions are what led to almost every major conflict/war in human history. However, in our postmodern society, this thinking is highly frowned upon and regarded as terribly unenlightened. Our chapter of modern civil society would look more to Marx's idealism in regards to religion as opposed to those of Bauer's.
Marx takes it beyond the scapegoating of the jewish people, and takes it to the question of religion and religious obligation in the state. He claims that the only way for a society to function at 100% efficiency is to be entirely devoid of religious affiliation, but not to outlaw it altogether, albeit families can follow the tenants of their respective religious disciplines in absolute privacy of the state. This allows for a secular society that can have religious following within it, but removed from guiding it behind closed doors. He uses north america as an example of this working at high efficiency where the culture of the society is entirely politically emancipated and religious practice is allowed in free expression, with regards to secularity from the state and office. So is it to say that society would be better off without religion entirely? or does the U.S. government have the end all be all solution to this question? In my belief as someone being raised religiously i do understand that religious strife causes much political tension across the globe, especially in the hotbed of turmoil that has been the middle east for ages now. However, i have been raised to believe in being righteous, and doing good things, and spreading the good word. Most religions are based around the concept of being a good person, and being a proud member of the community and country in which you belong to. So yes there is the pledging yourself to a god or higher power, but their is the utmost respect for civil law and legislation within civilized society. So maybe it should not come down to who is right about God, and whose God is the right one, but how we can live harmoniously together with our religions coinciding with one another. He goes as far as to say that in civil society we reduce every man we encounter to their means and nothing more, therefore we have grounds in which to judge them entirely upon our initial meeting of them. He continues this with a note that we too reduce ourselves to our means to know our place within the social construction of society and communicate effectively with these other civilized beings. Our status as command beings within the political community serves spiritually to our civil society as heaven does to earth. "Men living within civil society exist as an imaginary member of an imaginary sovereignty. We are removed from individual life and reality and given an unreal universality."(p.36) So do i agree with Marx? no, i feel that he is an idealist who seeks an impossible utopia through pragmatic ideals, but do i understand his reasoning behind his work and where his intentions are coming from? yes i do. Our society is so dependent on fiscal association and class affiliation that we are losing sight of our humanity by the day, and whether an answer to this issue will ever come about is beyond me, as i am merely a student attempting to interpret this very cryptic, critical way of putting the world we ve come to know. The "Jewish Question" and the question of religious emancipation from the entire world has yet to be answered in a clear and coherent fashion, maybe one day religion will evolve and adapt along with the society now that seems to be almost fashioning it as an archaic and dated idea.


Samantha Heyman said...

I would like to commend my fellow student for writing a very analytical and thought provoking discussion about Marx’s essay, “On the Jewish Question.” At first, I also thought that Marx was attacking the Jews. However, as I read further he questioned the role of religion in the civil state. In fact, I now understand that Marx was attacking Bauer for his essay. Marx poses a set of questions regarding political emancipation, including, “What are the essential conditions of the emancipation which is demand?” (30). He then criticizes Bauer for not formulating the problem at the correct level. Interestingly enough, Marx turns to the United States to cite that, “There is not, in the United States, either a state religion or a religion declared to be a majority, or a predominance of a religion over another” (31). Marx recognizes the fact that religion does play a role in society. To me this points to the importance of religious freedom and practice.
Marx’s essay also addresses the rights of man and the citizen. This portion of his essay becomes somewhat cloudy. Marx separates the rights of man and the rights of citizens (42). He discusses man as property owners. He also raises questions about the community of citizens. I think Marx begins to address the rights of man and the struggles of different classes and citizens in this essay.

Anonymous said...

I also believe Marx wrote in response to Bauer about the struggles of equality. I believe Marx, discussed the differences of a civil society in a different light. Marx believed that religion should play no part in politics, this ideology was simply the separation of church and state, however Marx goes onto explaining the difference in class he focuses primarily on the economic aspect of class struggle. He believed that economic formation is what determined our society. Bauer on the other hand believed the culprit of our problems was that religion was interfering in civil society. However Marx believes that politics has a necessity for civil society, even if politics has emancipated from civil society, there will still be some overlap. He believed that if we got rid of economic differences that all problems of civil society will vanish and therefore we will have a utopian civil society. In my personal opinion I do not believe that by creating an equal class system that these problems will simply go away. Looking back at the time frame of the industrial revolution, Marx had been in favor of child labor laws and wanted to protect the "bourgeoisie" from being exploited. In my opinion I believe Marx was another philosopher who had radical ideas of our system of government.