Friedrich Engels, “icon” of the modern left

Andrew Stuttaford at NRO informs us that a statue of Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx’s writing partner and and benefactor, has been erected in Manchester, England. The Manchester Evening News gushes:

Iconic socialist thinker, Friedrich Engels has returned to Manchester[,] 150 years after he left. As part of the Manchester International Festival, a statue will be officially unveiled of the German writer, in Tony Wilson Place, this Sunday.

Tony Wilson, by the way, was a record label and night club owner. He is credited with discovering the Sex Pistols, an experience he described as “nothing short of an epiphany.”

How Engels would feel about a statue honoring him in Tony Wilson Place is anyone’s guess.

The statue of Engels has been imported from Ukraine. How the Ukrainians feel about the statue, and the man, is clear. They despise him, which is why they have no further use for the statute. The only surprise is that they didn’t smash it.

As Stuttaford reminds us, the Marxist Soviet regime committed genocide in Ukraine. The British Labour Party turned a blind eye. One Labour minister even defended the work camps as part of “a remarkable economic experiment.”

But does Engels bear any responsibility for the butchery of Stalin’s Soviet Union? Defenders of erecting a monument in Manchester say, of course, that he doesn’t.

But Engels’ words say otherwise. Citing a compilation by Giles Udy, author of Labour and the Gulag: Russia and the Seduction of the British Left, Stuttaford presents the following statements by the “iconic socialist thinker”:

[S]uch offensive, vulgar, democratic arguments! To denigrate violence as something to be rejected, when we all know that in the end nothing can be achieved without violence!

This is our calling, that we shall become the templars of this Grail, gird the sword round our loins for its sake and stake our lives joyfully in the last, holy war which will be followed by the thousand-year reign of freedom.


We discovered that in connection with these figures the German national simpletons and money-grubbers of the Frankfurt parliamentary swamp always counted as Germans the Polish Jews as well, although this dirtiest of all races, neither by its jargon nor by its descent, but at most only through its lust for profit, could have any relation of kinship with Frankfurt.

Between the anti-Semitism, the talk of a holy war, and the millenarian nonsense, it sounds like, today, Engels might be ISIS’s benefactor.

Indeed, Engels was an open supporter of terrorism:

We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.

Finally, this remark has special poignancy for Ukrainians:

General war will] wipe out all these trash nations [a harsh, but reasonably accurate translation of Völkerabfälle, the term Engels used] down to their very names. The next world war will result in the disappearance from the face of the earth not only of reactionary classes and dynasties, but also of entire reactionary peoples. And that, too, is a step forward.

It is no accident, as Marxists like to say, that Marxism produced genocide. It is no accident that portions of the contemporary left find Marx and Engels “iconic.”


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