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Karl Marx's business letters are a series of letters that he, his friends, editors, and enemies wrote. The letters between Marx and his friends show their satisfaction and displeasure of Marx's topics, writings, personal, and financial life, while his enemies show respect and contempt. Moses Hess, Arnold Ruge, Mikhail Bakunin, Pavel V. Annenkov, Carl Schurz, and Bruno Bauer were radical socialist who were divided by European culture, social, religion, and political issues. The division lies with Roman Catholics and Jews. Those that were Roman Catholic did not want to associate with Jews and felt that Jews should remain at the bottom of the social ladder. Neither group wanted to associate with each other, and deep hatred kept them divided.

Yet by the time Marx began writing, publishing, and speaking, he was already a national sensation and threat to Germany, Russia, and France. Although there was a great deal of conflict with Marx's talent or lack thereof, there is no doubt that Marx influenced the world. Even though he was the founder of socialism, he never accomplished a profitable career, and his family remained in poverty.

To fully understand Marx, scholars must dig deeply into Moses Hess (1812 - 1875). Hess was a Jewish Zionist and communist.[1] He took Marx under his wing and made Marx his primary student.[2] Through this budding relationship, Hess assisted Marx with his " Communist Manifesto."[3] As their teacher and student relationship grew, so did their popularity. As a result, Marx began to surround himself with those who believed in his socialist cause.

This group of young scholars and their leader, Hess, were the radicals of their day. Things were great for this little group, until Marx began to form his own ideas. The first conflict, in Marx’s circle, was between Marx and Hess. Marx began to reject Hess' teachings and began to insult Hess' views on socialism. This was mainly due to Marx's mentality - to blame others for his failures or actions. [4] Thus, Marx began to surround himself with friends and scholars he met through his socialism teachings of Hess. Marx abandoned Hess and began to go down his own path. But Marx continued to have conflicts with his friends. With any topic that Marx disagreed with, he would end the friendship rudely and abruptly. As a result, the teacher and student relationship, between Hess and Marx, crumbled like Rome. As Hess was pushed from the sidelines, Marx and his group of "true socialist" emerged.[5

Arnold Ruge (1802 – 1880) was a Hegelian scholar. Hegelian scholars studied a great deal of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 – 1831). Hegel was a scholar of classic literature, and he was heavily influenced by the Enlightenment movement. Through Hegel's teachings, he began to dive into the philosophy of democracy and socialism. But because Marx and Ruge were both part of the same socialist circle, they became close friends. In one of his letters, Marx wrote to Ruge, discussing his issues with health and family matters. On July 9, 1842, Marx wrote:

Since April until now I have not been able to work for more than four weeks at the most, and this not even uninterruptedly. I had to spend six weeks in Trier because of a new death; the remaining time was broken up and spoilt by the most repulsive family controversy. I cannot possibly burden you with a recital of these private vulgarities; it is really fortunate that public vulgarities make it impossible for a man of character to become irritated over the private...”[6]

It is unclear what irritated private matter Marx had. But for a man, like Marx to tell another man about private matters, such as these, speaks of the bond that these two men had for each other. At one point, Marx even told Ruge about his love life, and how he could not wait to marry his fiancé. Again, this speaks volumes of how close these two men were.

On March 13, 1843, Marx discusses his love life with Ruge:

I can assure you without any trace of romanticism, that I am head over heels and most earnestly in love. I have been engaged for more than seven years, and my bride had to wage the bitterest fight on my behalf, a fight that has almost undermined her health, partly with her pietistic-aristocratic relatives, for whom the Lord in Heaven and the Lord in Berlin are equally objects of idolatry and partly with my own family, in which a few clerics and other enemies of mine have made themselves at home.[7]

But like everything else in Marx’s life, things began to fall apart with his friendship with Ruge. Their friendship hit a precarious time, when Ruge formed a separate ideology from Marx. Ruge believe in a "bourgeois-democratic republic, " which Marx was openly against.[8] This caused tensions between the two men. They began to argue over their own political and social views. Eventually their friendship did not last, and Ruge moved to Paris where he became a successful political advocate for democracy.[9] While Ruge became successful, Marx failed and wallowed in self-pity and poverty.[10]

In 1844, Ruge described what he thought about Marx. "His is a peculiar nature, very well suited to a learned man or an author, but totally useless for a journalist. He reads a great deal, he works with unusual intensity..., but he does not complete anything, he is constantly breaking off and plunging anew into an endless sea of books."[11] With Marx’s inability to focus and complete tasks, it is a wonder he ever earned the title “founder of socialism.” However, Mikhail Bakunin (1814 – 1876), one of Marx’s socialist enemies, was a Russian nobleman from the bourgeois or aristocratic class; he was well educated and wealthy.[12]

Bakunin studied Hegle, and he despised Jews.[13] He was a huge supporter and theoretician of Anarchism, which is a belief to abolish government, because it was thought that government did more harm than good. But it was also taught that all forms of hierarchy, including all social classes, hindered true individualism and freedom. Most importantly, he was a Russian revolutionist. Because of his revolutionary ideas, he was stripped from his titles, land, and wealth, and was sent to Siberia (Siberia was the place where the Romanov Dynasty sent their untrusted and unwanted subjects to hard labor. Many people did not return. It was considered a death sentence.).[14]

Despite the fact that he was anti-Semitic, Bakunin felt that Marx created the socialist system. "It was precisely at this time that he [Marx] elaborated the first bases of his system [socialism] as it is today."[15] This does not mean that Bakunin and Marx got along. On the contrary, neither one liked the other. Besides their different political and social views, both men came from different backgrounds, countries, cultures, had different languages, religions, and were both from two different social classes.

On the same note, Pavel V. Annenkov, a Russian literary critic who was good friends with Bakunin, declared, "All his [Marx] movement were angular, but bold and confident; his manners directly violated all accepted social conventions."[16] Carl Schurz (March 2, 1829 – May 14, 1906), a German American Revolutionist and Republican Senator, defined Marx as "head of the advanced socialistic school."[17] He also claimed that Marx "denounced everyone who dared to oppose his opinion."[18] Yet Bruno Bauer (September 6, 1809 – April 13, 1882), a German anti-Semitic, a Hegelian scholar, said that Marx did not have the skill or ability to write. "The letter, dear Marx, which you gave me for Marcus was so bad that I could not possibly pass it on. You can write in roughly that fashion to your washerwoman but not to a publisher, whom you have to win to your side."[19]

But when the Chicago Tribune interviewed Marx, in 1878, they described him with having intelligence. "He has the head of a man of intellect and the features of a cultivated Jew."[20] The interview goes on to say, "A man can generally be judged by the books he reads, and you can form your own conclusions when I tell you a casual glance revealed Shakespeare, Dickens, Thackeray, Moliere, Racine, Montaigne, Bacon, Goethe, Voltaire, Paine, English, American, French bluebooks; works political and philosophical in Russian, German, Spanish, Italian, etc., etc."[21]

Looking back, Marx divided himself among his friends, causing great tensions. Annekov, one of Marx’s enemies respected him a great deal, but he still felt that Marx should focus on the social issues of Jews, while he, Annekov, focused on the social issues of non-Jews. Thus, there was a great division among the socialist. This division caused great tensions and ignorance among their followers. Yet, Marx crated an inner division between him and his friends. As a result, the socialist were divided by thirds. The socialist Jews failed, while the Roman Catholic socialist became larger and stronger, until finally a leader arose, a leader that answered the Jewish Question – Adolf Hitler.

[1] The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, “Moses Hess (1812 – 1875),” Jewish Virtual Library A Project of AICE, 2021, [2] Julius Carlebach, “The Problem of Moses Hess’s Influence on the Young Marx,” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 18, no. 1 (January 1973): 27-28, [3]American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, “Moses Hess,” [4]Eugene Kamenka, The Portable Karl Marx (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1983), 29. [5]Sydney Hook, “Karl Marx and Moses Hess (December 1934), trans. Einde O’ Callaghan, Sydney Hook Internet Archive, February 19, 2020,

[6] Kamenka, Portable Karl, 25-26. [7] Kamenka, Portable Karl, 24. [8] James Chastain, “Arnold Ruge,” Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions, 1999, [9] Chastain, “Arnold Ruge,” [10] Kamenka, Portable Karl, 29, 33-37. [11] Kamenka, Portable Karl, 25-26. [12] Russiapedia, “Prominent Russians: Mikhail Bakunin,” Russiapeida: Get to Know Russia Better, 2021, [13] Russiapeida, “Prominent Russians,” [14] Russiapedia, “Prominent Russians,” [15] Kamenka, Portable Karl, 26. [16] Kamenka, Portable Karl, 27. [17] Kamenka, Portable Karl, 29. [18] Kamenka, Portable Karl, 30. [19] Kamenka, Porable Karl, 18.

[20] Kamenka, Portable Karl, 63. [21] Kamenka, Portable Karl, 63-64.

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Carlebach, Julius. “The Problem of Moses Hess’s Influence on the Young Marx.” Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook 18, no. 1 (January 1973): 27-28.

Chastain, James. “Arnold Ruge.” Last modified 1999.

Hook, Sydney. “Karl Marx and Moses Hess (December 1934),” translated by Einde O’ Callaghan. Last modified February 19, 2020.

Kamenka, Eugene. The Portable Karl Marx. New York: Penguin Books, 1983.

The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. “Moses Hess (1812 – 1875).” Last modified 2021.