July 15, 2020


Karl Marx Was a Total RacistIf George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt must fall, why not the fathers of communism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels? (Jarrett Stepman, 7/15/20, National Interest)

Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a founder of the Black Lives Matter organization, had no problem defining herself and at least one of the two other founders, Alicia Garza, as "Marxists." (Opal Tometi is the third founder.) [...]

But if George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt must fall, why not the fathers of communism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels?

Though Marx and Engels are perhaps most known for their ideas about class conflict and revolution, they both dabbled in theories--increasingly popular at the time--about race and racial hierarchies.

Not only that, but their private correspondence demonstrated an even larger degree of hostility to black-skinned people, as their writings were littered with racial slurs.

In an 1887 letter, Engels wrote that blacks were closer to "the animal kingdom" than the rest of humanity, in a reference to his mixed race son-in-law.

In a letter to Engels, Marx wrote of Ferdinand Lassalle, a contemporary socialist of his day:

It is now completely clear to me that he, as is proved by his cranial formation and his hair, descends from the Negroes who had joined Moses' exodus from Egypt, assuming that his mother or grandmother on the paternal side had not interbred with a n---. Now this union of Judaism and Germanism with a basic Negro substance must produce a peculiar product.

Marx had ugly things to say about various other races, too, and despite being ethnically Jewish, said that the "worldly religion" of Jews was "huckstering."

Erik van Ree, a lecturer at the Institute for East European Studies of the University of Amsterdam, wrote of Marx and Engel's racism in a paper for the Journal of Political Ideologies. He explained how racial classifications and explanations of economic development were a component of early Marxist thought:

In Marx and Engels's understanding, racial disparities emerged under the influence of shared natural and social conditions hardening into heredity and of the mixing of blood. They racialized skin-color groups, ethnicities, nations, and social classes, while endowing them with innate superior and inferior character traits. They regarded race as part of humanity's natural conditions, upon which the production system rested. 'Races' endowed with superior qualities would boost economic development and productivity, while the less endowed ones would hold humanity back.

Importantly, van Ree concluded that Marx and Engels' statements on race went beyond "unthinkingly repeating the stereotypes and prejudices of the day."

"Whereas formal definitions and theories of race indeed cannot be found in their writings, their scattered comments add up to quite a coherent position on the question," van Ree wrote.

By the standards of modern "anti-racist" ideologies, Marx, Engels, and the whole body of their work should be canceled, not celebrated.

Posted by at July 15, 2020 12:00 AM