Roots of Radicalism


[VANGUARD No. 34, Summer 1991 contained the following 13 questions in a 'Nationalist Quiz'. In issue 35 the questions were repeated, together with the answers, and a brief essay on the errors of Marx, Engels and Lewis Morgan.]

AND now, to end this edition of VANGUARD we bring you the answers to the quiz that appeared in the last issue. Who said :-

1. "This splendid territory (Turkey) has the misfortune to be inhabited by a conglomerate of different races and nationalities, of which it is hard to say which is the least fit for progress and civilisation".

Answer: Karl Marx. Source - "British Politics", (April 7th 1853) Collected Works, vol 12, page 7.

2. "The conquest of Algeria is an important and fortunate fact for the progress of civilisation".

Answer: Frederick Engels. Source - "Abd-el-Kader" (January 22nd) Collected Works, vol 6, page 423.

3. "Splendid California has been taken away from the lazy Mexicans, who could not do anything with it".

Answer: Frederick Engels. Source - "Democratic pan-Slavism" (February 15th 1849) Collected works vol. 8, pages 365-366

4. "Society is undergoing a silent revolution which most be submitted to. The classes and the races too weak to master the new conditions of life must give way".

Answer: Karl Marx. Source - "Forced Emigration" (March 22nd 1853) Collected Works vol 11, page 531

5. "China, the rotting semi-civilisation of the oldest state in the world. Chinese nationality with all its overbearing prejudice, stupidity, learned ignorance and pedantic barbarism..."

Answer: Frederick Engels. Source – "Persia and China (June 5th 1857) On Colonialism, 6th ed, Moscow, 1976, pages 120-124

6. "It would seem as though history had first to make this whole people (the Chinese) drunk before it could rouse them from their hereditary stupidity".

Answer: Karl Marx. Source - "Revolution in China and in Europe" (May 20th 1853) Collected Works vol 12, page 94.

7. "Scandinavianism is enthusiasm for the brutal, sordid, piratical Old Norse national traits ... namely rudeness towards women, perpetual drunkeness and wild berserk frenzy alternating with tearful sentimentality".

Answer: Frederick Engels. Source - "The Danish Prussian Armistice", (September 10th 1848), Collected Works vol 7, page 422.

8. "The southern facile character of the Irishman, his crudity which places him but little above the savage, his contempt for all humane enjoyments in which his crudeness makes him incapable of sharing; his filth and poverty; all favour drunkeness. The pressure of this race has done much to depress wages and lower the (English) working class. That poverty manifests itself in Ireland thus and not otherwise is owing to the character of the people and their historical development".

Answer: Frederick Engels Source - "The Condition of the Working Class in England", English edn. 1892, vol 4 - pages 391-392.

9. "Lafarge has the usual stigma of the Negro tribe: no sense of shame, I mean thereby no sense of making himself ridiculous".

Answer: Karl Marx, in a private letter to Frederick Engels, dated the 11th November 1882, See “The Letters of Karl Marx” 1979 by Saul K Padover page 399.

10. "the plentiful meat and milk diet among the Arians and Semites and particularly the beneficial effects of the food on the development of children may perhaps explain the superior development of these two races".

Answer: Frederick Engels. Source - 'Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State' fourth revised edition 1891.

11. “What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly religion? Money”.

Answer: Karl Marx. Source - "On the Jewish Question" (1844) Collected Works, vol 3, see pp 169-174.

12. "The wretched ruined fragments of one time nations, the Serbs, Bulgars, Greeks and other robber bands... are unwilling to grant each other the air they breathe, and feel obliged to cut each others greedy throats... the lousy Balkan peoples..."

Answer: Frederick Engels. Source - letter to August Bebel, 17th November 1885. From "Marxism" (1967) translated by B D Wolfe, page 68.

13. "Unimportant in numbers (Negroes are) feeble in intellect and inferior in rank to every other portion of the human family. The seem to challenge and traverse alI the evidences of the unity of origin of the human family... In the light of our present knowledge the Negro is the chief stumbling block in the way of establishing the unity of origin of the human family upon the basis of scientific proofs".

Answer: Lewis Morgan.

Eh? Hold on a minute. Lewis Morgan, who's he?

Well, Just as Marx & Engels lifted most of their economic ideas from other, more original people they also lifted practically all of their scientific ideas from others. Lewis Henry Morgan, the founder of the science of anthropology - as he was dubbed at the time - was one of Marx's favourites. Marx particularly liked Morgan because, apart from anything else he was, probably, more forthrightly racialist than anyone else. In Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity (the book from which the above quote was taken) published in 1871 Morgan wrote further on the Negroes -

"It is too thin a race intellectually to be fit to propagate and I am perfectly satisfied from reflection that the feeling towards this race is one of hostility throughout the north. We have no respect for them whatever”.

Between them Marx and Engels used many of Morgan's ideas to prop up their arguments. In Montezuma's Dinner (1876) for instance Morgan ridicules the romantic notion that the Incas were a noble enlightened race of civilised South Americans until the arrival of the Conquistadores. According to Marx this proves exactly his point that there is only one possible sequential course of history and thus only one possible ultimate perfect civilisation.

Apart from mere racialism Morgan also suffered another of today's 'social defects' - he was a sexist; or rather he is now perceived as one after Engels re-wrote some of his stuff, tipping in some of his own, fairly typical 19th century views, on female sexuality in the process.

The whole purpose of his book Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State was to outline the supposed development of society from simple matriarchal communistic societies into the present day capitalist ones. The inference was that the only course of development for society was the inevitable one, into communism. This book is still a cornerstone of communist thought and one which was based on Morgan's earlier Ancient Society. (1877)

Unfortunately for Marx, Engels, Morgan & Co when this particular work was critically re-evaluated serious flaws were detected. For a start there is no evidence whatsoever to support his theory that matriarchal societies were once universal. Morgan got the idea from a fairly loose study of North American Iroquois Indians and Engels repeated it. Overall it can be said that the whole of Communist thought about the origins of society were based, second-hand, upon study of a single, culturally exceptional, Red Indian tribe in America, before the Europeans came.

Another basic flaw was Morgan's lack of distinction between matriarchal and matrilinear societies. Communities may well trace genetic descent through mothers rather than fathers but this does not prove that women were the dominant sex in such societies.

The ironic thing is that simply by proposing that matriarchal societies were earlier than patriarchal ones in their linear view of history Morgan, Marx and Engels thought unwittingly leads to the conclusion that females are not capable of running any sort of modern society, and thus earned them the undying enmity of entire sections of the feminist movement.

What a pity that the Slav, Chinese and 'intellectually thin' Negro Communists didn't pay as much attention to their ideological roots!