Karl Marx: Communist leader and blatant racist

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The following text contains quotes attributed to Karl Marx and others in which abhorrent words are used. They have been redacted, but remain recognizable. Please note, these comments are direct quotes and do not reflect the values of Communities Digital News or the writer.

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2014 — At many universities, it has been said that teaching Homer, St. Thomas Aquinas, Shakespeare and Dickens perpetuates the power of “dead white males” over women and minorities.

People once believed that Homer belonged to the world. It is a modern illusion that particular works of art, literature and music belong somehow only to those who can trace their lineage to the creators of those works. Shall only Jews read the Old Testament? Only Greeks read Plato and Aristotle? Only those of English descent read Shakespeare, and only Italians appreciate Dante or Leonardo da Vinci?


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The study of Western culture is part of the group of disciplines called “the humanities.” Western culture is relevant to men and women of all races and backgrounds — to all human beings — particularly to those living in our Western society, but not just to them. The distinguished black intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois recognized this reality when he wrote more than one hundred years ago:

“I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. Across the color line, I walk arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas, where smiling men and welcoming women glide in gilded halls.

From out of the caves of evening that swing between the strong-limbed earth and the tracery of the stars, I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously, with no scorn or condescension.

So, with Truth, I dwell above the veil.”

Ironically, one dead white male remains in vogue among campus radicals in the U.S., and with radical movements in the rest of the world: Karl Marx.

Often overlooked by those who keep the Marxist flame alive is the blatant racism of Karl Marx. Largely unknown to his non-white and non-Western admirers is the contempt in which Marx held all non-European peoples and cultures.

Much has been written about the fact that Marx, although of rabbinical descent on both sides of his family, was a dedicated anti-Semite. In fact, his book “World Without Jews” is considered by many to be a forerunner to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

Little, however, has been written about Marx’s racial views, the contempt in which he held not only non-whites but whole groupings of Europeans, especially the Slavic peoples.


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In his book “Karl Marx: Racist,” Nathaniel Weyl shows how Marx privately developed an entire racial hierarchy and racial view of history by the 1860s. In the middle of that decade, Marx was casting about for some scientific or pseudo-scientific justification for his racial notions, which he found in the work of Pierre Tremaux. He and his friend and benefactor Friedrich Engels went so far as to advocate wars of extermination against Slavic peoples and the destruction of Russia. How ironic that the Soviet Union proclaimed itself a “Marxist” state.

“Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels,” Weyl writes, “were neither internationalists nor believers in equal rights for all races and peoples. They opposed the struggles for national independence for those races and peoples that they despised. They believed that the ‘barbaric’ and ‘ahistoric’ peoples who comprised the immense majority of mankind had played no significant role in history and were not destined to do so in the foreseeable future. They regarded them as obstacles to the forward sweep of history. They considered them as objects rather than subjects. They were people who ought to be conquered and exploited by the more advanced nations. Some of these inferior stock were people who ought to be eradicated and swept from the surface of the earth.”

Marx took from Hegel, another German philosopher, the idea that certain races, peoples and nations were “ahistoric.” Either they had never played any role in history and never would, as in the case of black Africans, or they were insignificant peoples whose history was irrelevant, or they were frozen at civilizational levels at which the more advanced portions of mankind had already left them behind.

“These were ideas,” Weyl notes, “…which Marx would adopt and transform…Publicly and for political reasons , both Marx and Engels posed as friends of the Negro. In private, they were anti-black racists of the most odious sort. They had contempt for the entire Negro race, a contempt they expressed by comparing Negroes to animals, by identifying black people with ‘idiots’ and by continuously using the opprobrious term ‘n****r’ in their private correspondence.”

Marx, for example, wrote to Engels on July 30, 1862, about one of the leaders of socialism in Germany and his rival, Ferdinand Lasalle, whom he referred to as, “that Jewish n****r Lasalle.

“He wrote: “It is now absolutely clear to me that, as both the shape of his head and his hair texture shows, he descends from the Negroes who joined Moses’ flight from Egypt (unless his mother or grandmother on the paternal side hybridized with a n****r) … The pushiness of the fellow is also n****r-like.”

Marx even championed slavery in North America. When Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, probably the leading socialist thinker in France at the time, published a book called “The Philosophy of Poverty,” Marx replied with a vitriolic rebuttal entitled “The Poverty Of Philosophy” (1874). Proudhon had advocated the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. Marx replied:

“Without slavery, North America, the most progressive of countries, would be transformed into a patriarchal country. Wipe out North America from the map of the world and you will have anarchy, the complete decay of modern commerce and civilization. Abolish slavery and you will have wiped America off the map of nations.”

In the U.S., some leading socialists early in the 20th century adopted Marx’s racist views. On September 14, 1901, the “Social Democratic Herald” characterized black Americans as inferior, depraved elements who went around “raping women and children.” In an article in the paper dated May 31, 1902, Victor Berger, one of the national leaders of the Socialist Party, wrote that “there can be no doubt that the Negroes and mulattos constitute a lower race.”

It is ironic that the most acceptable white male in the curriculum for “diversity” on many campuses is Karl Marx, a world-class bigot. At one time, Marx referred to a Creole man who married his niece as a “gorilla offspring.” Marx also approved of European imperialism in Asia because he considered the Asian culture so inferior that it was incapable of entering historic development without a European push.

Of China and India, he said they were “semi-barbarian and semi-civilized” and had “no history at all, at least no human history.”

Marx’s colleague Friedrich Engels was equally racist in his views. When he learned that Marx’s son-in-law, who had some African ancestry, was running as a socialist in a district that also contained the Paris zoo, Engels observed:

“Being in his quality as a n****r a degree closer to the rest of the animal kingdom than the rest of us, he is undoubtedly the most appropriate representative of that district.”

In his address to the freshman class at Yale in 1990—-which is as relevant, if not more so, today, Donald Kagan, at that time professor of history and classics and dean of Yale College, declared:

“The assault on the character of Western civilization badly distorts history. The West’s flaws are real enough, but they are common to almost all the civilizations known on any continent at any time in human history. What is remarkable about the Western heritage…are the important ways in which it has departed from the common experience…It has asserted the claims of the individual against those of the state, limiting the state’s power and creating a realm of privacy into which it cannot penetrate…At its core is a tolerance and respect for diversity, unknown in most cultures.”

Our unity as a nation is threatened, in Kagan’s view, by those who would replace the teaching of our history and culture with some other “multi-cultural” curriculum:

“…American culture derives chiefly from the experience of Western Civilization, and especially from England…I say this without embarrassment, as an immigrant who arrived here as an infant from Lithuania…Our students will be handicapped in their lives after college if they do not have a broad and deep knowledge of the culture in which they live and the roots from which they come…As our land becomes ever more diverse, the danger of separation and segregation by ethnic group…increases and with it the danger to the national unity which, ironically, is essential to the qualities that attracted many people to this country.”

Given the racial attitudes of Karl Marx, it is an irony of history that he remains immune from the criticism on the part of those non-whites and non-Europeans for whom he expressed such distaste. Of course, it has been said many times, that the one thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.

It is high time that we pay attention to the past so that we do not repeat its mistakes, or make heroes of those for whom we should have contempt. Karl Marx would be a good place to begin.

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Allan C. Brownfeld
Received B.A. from the College of William and Mary, J.D. from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law of the College of William and Mary, and M.A. from the University of Maryland. Served as a member of the faculties of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, Alexandria, Virginia and the University College of the University of Maryland. The recipient of a Wall Street Journal Foundation Award, he has written for such newspapers as The Houston Press, The Washington Evening Star, The Richmond Times Dispatch, and The Cincinnati Enquirer. His column appeared for many years in Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. His articles have appeared in The Yale Review, The Texas Quarterly, Orbis, Modern Age, The Michigan Quarterly, The Commonweal and The Christian Century. His essays have been reprinted in a number of text books for university courses in Government and Politics. For many years, his column appeared several times a week in papers such as The Washington Times, The Phoenix Gazette and the Orange County Register. He served as a member of the staff of the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, as Assistant to the research director of the House Republican Conference and as a consultant to members of the U.S. Congress and to the Vice President. He is the author of five books and currently serves as Contributing Editor of The St. Croix Review, Associate Editor of The Lincoln Review and editor of Issues.
  • B.C.

    It’s enormously telling that the author was completely unable to provide substantial support for his argument. His sole resources are second-hand recountings from biased authors and a single insulting reference to Lasalle from a private letter.

    Hilariously, the author manages to somehow completely reverse Marx’s actual thoughts and writings on the subjects at hand, in particular the American institution of chattel slavery.

    I quote from a letter that Marx wrote to Lincoln in 1864, as a representative of the First International:

    Sir:

    We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority. If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant war cry of your re-election is Death to Slavery.

    From the commencement of the titanic American strife the workingmen of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the destiny of their class. The contest for the territories which opened the dire epoque, was it not to decide whether the virgin soil of immense tracts should be wedded to the labor of the emigrant or prostituted by the tramp of the slave driver?

    While the workingmen, the true political powers of the North, allowed slavery to defile their own republic, while before the Negro, mastered and sold without his concurrence, they boasted it the highest prerogative of the white-skinned laborer to sell himself and choose his own master, they were unable to attain the true freedom of labor, or to support their European brethren in their struggle for emancipation; but this barrier to progress has been swept off by the red sea of civil war.

    The workingmen of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American Antislavery War will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world. ”

    Perhaps the author, lacking the necessary understanding to actually analyze Marx and his thought in context, thought a hack-work propaganda screed would be sufficient.

    We communists reply that you are simply doing our work for us – you discredit yourselves.

    • Sadly, using Marx’s own words wasn’t detailed enough for you but carry on, you know way more than this 83 year old author.

      • VolunteerVet

        I don’t know where to start. But let’s start with my saying that I read Marx. I also wrote a paper on Marxism which earned an A.

        I must admit that the idea of fourth stage Marxism (a classless, stateless society is very seductive)… However, this will probably never happen! What politician is going to allow the termination of their power and privilege? Show me one…

        Historical reality shows that a free enlightened Citizenry can and does lead to a better world.

        While Marx asserted that the USA is the most likely place where a classless stateless society could succeed. The Pilgrims proved that Communism does not work, but that individual ownership leads to success. Who really wants to work hard to have the fruits of your labor given to a couch slug?

        (Well, OK, modern Liberal Marxists practice this, but it only to buy votes, and thus Political Power.)

        To all of you Marxists out there – show me a Marxist Government where any thing other than tyranny is the outcome. All Marxist Governments seem to result in massive death and poverty… Except of course the Elites who enjoy special privilege .. Is this a “classless, stateless society” or slavery for the masses?

        Are those following the dictates of “Marxism” stupid or pathological Tyrant wannabe’s? Please tell me…

        All that needs to be said is that Marxism is the asserted political system of Tyrants everywhere!!! What say you?

        • Terry Yanto

          And how is capitalism without it’s flaws? As you can see, while rampant desire for success and property does improve one’s living state it creates many issues in the long run, separation of class is dutifully apparent.

          Rarely does anyone wholeheartedly agree with Marx’s rather radical viewpoints, such as violent revolution to achieve dramatic economic and societal change, but he made very good points about the savagery of innate human nature when allowed to run wild unchecked.

          Exactly your point, individual ownership (usually) leads to success. Yes, of course, those at the top are always solely using the “fruits” of their labor to achieve it, there isn’t corruption, betrayal, nepotism and the such.

          Also, where does Marx say that that there shall exist an Elitist group? Nevertheless, doesn’t that group already exist, in any different form of society. Nevertheless, Marx, although not perfect in his ideals had core ideals that rang with commoners. Of course, total egalitarianism is impossible in a human infrastructure.

  • Sandra Leigh Olson Rogers

    I agree with VolunteerVet. Ms. Grimsley, were you being sarcastic to B.C.? To B.C., please move to Russia, post haste!!

  • The Truth

    Proudhon actually supported the Confederacy and their “right” to own slaves as property because he viewed the Union as a centralized government infringing upon Southern autonomy. Marx on the other hand was anti-slavery and wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln congratulating the abolition and Union victory as step forward for the American working class. This author gets many things factually wrong and seeks to accuses Marx of attitudes that he never held.

  • Jealous Cactus

    Adam Smith called Africans naked savages, so by your logic we should also discredit capitalism. Plus Marx sent a letter applauding Lincoln for trying to end slavery, so it is ridiculous to say he was pro-slavery. Marx is not above criticism, but this is ridiculous.

    • Knightofhopex

      Marx saw it as an objective to wipe out societies that were counter productive to his idea of progress. Adam Smith saw Africans as backwards people who had not yet embraced progress as he wished they would. Your first point is thus, utterly illogical nonsense.

      Marx, moreover, saw ending slavery as the primary method of destroying the United States and wiping it from the earth so that it would not progress into a better example of how modern states ought to operate. He had ulterior motives. Your second point is thus, putrid abominable garbage.

      Having now found yourself ridiculous and uninformed, please go get educated. Thanks.

      • Jealous Cactus

        Maybe if you provided a shred of evidence rather than resorting to ad hominem attacks like a child I’d take you seriously

        • R Trev

          Marx’s writings also show an unabashed support of slavery (note-although Marx flip-flopped on the issue of slavery when it suited him, Marx was Pro-slavery up until it served his interest to rethink his position), admiration for European and American imperialism and general disdain for people from the third world. For all intents and purposes, Marx looked down upon pretty much everyone today’s Marxists have come to represent

  • R Trev

    About time somebody told the truth about MARX and ENGELS.

  • R Trev

    Anyone that’s read the entire catalogue of Marx’s ridiculous writings can attest to the man’s arrogance, disdain for Western civilisation and general contempt for humanity.

    And the contempt he harboured for humanity, and explicitly expressed in his writings, was not only reserved for Western Civilisation, cultural Christianity and people of Western European origin; but the sort of folks Marxists claim they’re fighting for today-blacks, Mexicans, East Indians, Central Asians, Orientals, and Slavs. Anyone that’s read the man’s work knows how little love Marx had for folks inhabiting the lands east of the Oder and beyond the pale of Western Civilisaton. The indigenous people inhabiting the New World were ‘lazy’ and to be ‘dealt with swiftly. Slavs were to be ‘exterminated’, ‘Oriental savages’ handled ‘by the might of the sword’, Indian society needed to be totally “annihilated’ and its ‘filthy pagan idols’ destroyed. Blacks, were lesser men that by ‘nature’ had ‘neither the intellect to govern, or willingness to work’ required for their own progress.
    FROM – G. WOLF

  • Wes the red

    What does this prove? So a couple of white intellectuals don’t like black people, it’s the nineteenth century. What do you expect?