Friday 21st June 2024,
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Should We Knock Down the Statue of ‘Racist’ Karl Marx?

Should We Knock Down the Statue of ‘Racist’ Karl Marx?

The recent protests over American police brutality against blacks have reached around the world. This has also resulted in the toppling of statues with historical figures associated with slavery and racism, notably Confederate monuments in America.

In Leicester there have even been calls to get rid of the statue to Mahatma Gandhi because he imbibed the colonialist racist ideas of his time, even while he was fighting racial discrimination in South Africa. The calls to remove the statue of a major architect of South Africa, Cecil Rhodes, from its place at Oriel College Oxford, have been magnified by these protests. However, what is really interesting is that taken to these logical conclusions is that it will target the very icons so revered by the radical Left.

South African Tragedy

Rhodes is a controversial figure to say the least. During the late nineteenth century he showed incredible drive in building up a massive fortune from the Kimberley diamond mines.

In his short life he not only became a business magnate but also an influential politician in the British colony of the Cape, had a country named after him (Rhodesia), and a fund for helping students (Rhodes scholarship).

But he was also an avowed racist who believed that the Anglo-Saxon race should reign supreme and that whites overall were superior. These attitudes were encountered by Gandhi when he lived South Africa.

He was unable to walk the streets, ride first class in trains or to vote. However his focus was mainly on the rights of Indians which he felt should be classed with whites and not blacks, because “Anglo-Saxons and Indians are sprung from the same Aryan stock”.

Years later, Gandhi and his colleagues served and helped Africans as nurses and by opposing racism, according to Nelson Mandela.

Yet if we are to examine the inconvenient truth about Gandhi we will find even more regarding Karl Marx, who is buried in Highgate cemetery, London. While not all on the Left or engaged in civil and human rights consciously take inspiration from him, Marxism continues to exert a massive influence on the radical Left who have been heavily engaged with Black Lives Matter and statue removal.

In 1922 white mineworkers went on strike in the Witwatersrand against the use of cheaper black labour. It was typified by the slogan; “Workers of the world, unite and fight for a white South Africa!” and by several pogroms against blacks, with heavy involvement by the South African Communist party.

This link with communism with aggressive racism was not an aberration. it went back to the their messiah himself.

Marx the Racist

Former communist Nathaniel Weyl wrote “Karl Marx: Racist” as far back as 1979. When the United States annexed California after the Mexican War, Marx sarcastically asked,

“Is it a misfortune that magnificent California was seized from the lazy Mexicans who did not know what to do with it?” In a letter to Engels in 1862, in reference to his socialist political competitor Ferdinand Lassalle, Marx called him “the Jewish Nigger Lasalle” and:

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 nigger. Now this union of Judaism and Germanism with a basic Negro substance must produce a peculiar product.

In a letter to Engels he wrote that French ethnologist Pierre Tremaux had made advances over Drawin by proving that “the common Negro type is the degenerate form of a much higher one”.

In the New York Tribune in 1853, Karl Marx came close to advocating genocide, writing, “The classes and the races, too weak to master the new conditions of life, must give way.”

Marx joined Bismarck and German liberals in holding that the Polish minority were backward and reactionary and should be assimilated into becoming good Germans.
He was also influenced by that French father of pseudo-academic racism Arthur de Gobineau, and along with Engels saw the French invasion of Algeria as a civilising mission.

In his 1844 “On the Jewish Question,” he asked:

What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. … Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man—and turns them into commodities. … The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew.

He also praised British rule in India:

”English interference having placed the spinner in Lancashire and the weaver in Bengal, or sweeping away both Hindoo spinner and weaver, dissolved these small semi-barbarian semi-  civilized,communities, by blowing up their economical basis, and thus produced the greatest, and to speak the truth, the only social revolution ever heard of in Asia.”


England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating the annihilation of old Asiatic society, and the laying the material foundations of Western society in Asia. India was predestined to be conquered as its history was simply one of successive conquests.

Engels shared Marx’s contempt for Mexicans, explaining:

“In America we have witnessed the conquest of Mexico and have rejoiced at it. It is to the interest of its own development that Mexico will be placed under the tutelage of the United States.”

In 1849, Engels published an article in Marx’s newspaper, Neue Rheinische Zeitung he condemned “Slav barbarians” and hoped for their extermination.

It was in fact Engels’ characterisation of Slav backwardness in 1848 that helped set this German stereotype. In 1887 he even Engels claimed that Paul Lafargue, who was Marx’s son-in-law, had “one-eighth or one-twelfth nigger blood.” In his 1877 Notes to Anti-Dühring, Engels elaborated on the subject of race explaining that mathematics would be “difficult to teach them by proof to a bushman or to an Australian Negro.”

Marxism and Socialism as Racism in Practice

Indeed socialism was imbibed with racism and eugenics: Sidney and Beatrice Webb, George Bernard Shaw, Harold Laski, HG Wells, John Maynard Keynes, Virgina Woolf, TS Eliot, Havelock Ellis, Julian and Aldous Huxley, Eden Paul as well as publications such as the New Statesman and Manchester Guardian. In turn these ideas eventually led to the acceptance of genocide.

DH Lawrence also imagined a lethal chamber as large as Crystal Palace to rid the streets of the sick and maimed. George Bernard Shaw went even further advocating a eugenics based polygamy and the genetically undesirable should be sent to a lethal extermination chamber.

Such Progressives thus denigrated conservatives as being “Social Darwinists” or even “backward” and “reactionary” for not enforcing racial hygiene such as sterilisation of those deemed “unfit”. Che Guevara, the Argentine revolutionary and friend of the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, wrote in his 1952 memoir The Motorcycle Diaries:

“The Negro is indolent and lazy and spends his money on frivolities, whereas the European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent.

“I have learned a great deal from Marxism,” Hitler said, “as I do not hesitate to admit.”

Throughout his youth, Hitler “never shunned the company of Marxists” and believed that while the “petit bourgeois Social Democrat … will never make a National Socialist … the Communist always will.” It is, therefore, unsurprising that Nazi Germany, with its concentration camps and omnipresent secret police, came so close to resembling the Soviet Union.

Following their invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the Germans collected information on the immense scale of the Soviet slave camp system and were impressed by their Soviet readiness to destroy whole categories of people through forced labour.

The USSR under Stalin deliberately targeted specific ethnic groups for persecution: Poles, Koreans, Crimean Tatars, Cossacks, Kazakhs, Meshketian Turks, Kurds, Pontiac Greeks, Ukrainians, Kalmycks, Karachai, Germans, Jews.

Wherever it was in power communism caused the deaths of millions through slave labour, famine, and extermination based on ethnicity.

It is clear then that the ideas of Marx hardly counter racism, and certainly do not lead to liberation. Indeed they have inspired various figures who are beyond the pale. Mussolini gained the admiration of Lenin, and indeed fancied himself as the Lenin of Italy.

Stalin was allied to Hitler for two years. Even after the Nazi-Soviet Axis fell, Stalin is said to have said that the combined forces of the USSR and Third Reich would have been invincible. As late as February 1945 Hitler said that both he and Stalin could have created a durable entente.

The USSR rehabilitated many former Nazis into the security and administrative machinery of East Germany, especially the police and Stasi. Nazi death camps were opened under new management under the communists, as the USSR continued its slave labour system of the gulags.

This system continues in North Korea and especially China. Hence if we are going to topple the statues and icons of slavery, racism and colonialism, the only logical conclusion would be for the statues and images of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Che Guevara to meet the same fate.

About The Author

Ranbir Singh : Writer and lecturer, HHR chairman : BA (Honours) History, MA History from School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London : , Have lectured previously at De Montfort University, London School of Economics, Contributor to various political and human rights discussion outfits.

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