Marx Myths & Legends

Hal Draper

Marx and the Economic-Jew Stereotype

The legend according to which Marx was an anti-Semite swings on the projection of the late-twentieth century understanding of “political correctness” onto 19th century writing, and in particular on Marx’s review of Bruno Bauer’s article “On the Jewish Question.” The work has been circulated in grossly edited form by right-wingers with the specific aim of slandering Marx’s character. In fact the article is a defence of the civil rights of Jews, as well as being a profound study of the relation between social and political rights in bourgeois society more generally.

Source: Hal Draper, Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Vol.1: State and Bureaucracy, Monthly Review, New York 1977, pp.591-608. © Hal Draper 1977, © Center for Socialist History (Berkeley). Reproduced by Marxists Internet Archive with permission from the REDS – Die Roten Website. This text is a duplicate of the version marked up by Einde O’Callaghan.

The ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ in Marx and Engels

"Dictatorship of the proletariat" has been used to label Marx as an enemy of democracy. In this article, Hal Draper demonstrates that not only Marx, but also the conservatives of his time, identified the most thoroughgoing democracy as a "dictatorship" - i.e., dictatorship of the people over the propertied classes. Draper shows how the meaning of the word "dictatorship" changed over the decades, eventually coming to be seen as a form of government antithetical to democracy, and how via Plekhanov, "dictatorship of the proletariat" came to be understood in this way in Russia.

Source: Chapter 1 of The ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ from Marx to Lenin, by Hal Draper, Monthly Review Press, 1987. Reproduced with permission of Hal Draper’s estate at the Center for Socialist History. All rights remain with the author’s estate.

Biographical information

The son of immigrant garment workers, Hal Draper was a prolific Marxist writer and socialist activist. He joined the US socialist movement in 1932 and continued to write and agitate for socialist ideas throughout what were very difficult times for socialism in the US. In the 1950s, he edited the weekly Labor Action, rejecting both the slavish defence of “real existing socialism” in the Soviet Union and New Deal welfare capitalism.
Much of Draper’s work was dedicated to defending the ideas of Marx and Lenin from distortion by friends and enemies alike, such as The Myth of ‘Lenin’s Concept of the Party’, written shortly before his death in 1990.

See also: The Hal Draper Archive at