Why would BIU want to honour a tyrant?
BIU president Chris Furbert is on solid ground when he states (according to the RG of May 2) that “the struggle for a better world continues”. Most people do so on a daily basis when they get out of bed to go to work; children do the same when they learn to read and write; and parents do exactly that when they bring up their children to be responsible adults.
I am not so sure about his other proposal of switching Bermuda’s Labour Day from the first Monday in September to May 1 — an ambition that the BIU has harboured for some time.
The main connection with the May 1 is, of course, Karl Marx (1818-1893), the man credited with the founding of communism, and who is the hero of many labour leaders.
It is easy to admire him and his philosophy if you have not studied his writings, paid attention to the actions of his political followers or do not know how he behaved, what he did, wrote and said during his lifetime.
The major successes of Marx’s political philosophy started initially with the ousting and execution of the Czar in Russia in 1917 by the machinations of one of his most determined disciples — Lenin.
Lenin was succeeded by an even more evil leader, Josef Stalin, who is reputed to have said that one death is a tragedy, but a million deaths merely a statistic.
At different dates, various other countries fell under the spell of Marx’s communist philosophy such as China (under an even more ruthless despot Mao Tsetung), much of Eastern Europe, Cuba, and a host of smaller countries such as Cambodia.
There were two distinguishing marks of communism.
The first was poverty and economic backwardness, leading ultimately to the economic collapse in the late 1970s. Workers were, of course, the major group to suffer from their insane economic policies.
The other was the number of state-sponsored deaths. In the authoritative Black Book of Communism, a compelling read, it is estimated that between 80 and 100 million people were killed by various Marxist governments, more than all other 20th century tyrannies combined.
Why anyone in his right mind would want to associate Bermuda with someone who inspired history’s most successful mass murderers is beyond me.
A more appropriate May 1 holiday would be “A Victims of Communism Day”.
2, Racism of Karl Marx
What is often overlooked by those eager to keep the Marxist flame alight is the blatant racism of Marx. He held all non-European people and cultures in contempt, and although part-Jewish himself his anti-Semite book World without Jews was the precursor to Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Marx, and his financier, Friedrich Engels, regarded non-Europeans as people who ought to be eradicated and swept from the earth. In particular, they had contempt for the entire African races, a contempt they expressed by comparing blacks to animals, identifying them with idiots, and continuously using the opprobrious term “n****r” in correspondence.
He referred to one of his communist rivals, Ferdinand Lasalle, as “that Jewish n****r”. He even championed slavery in the United States.
3, Personal Life of Marx
Despite his reputation for championing the working man, there is no record of Marx ever having visited a factory, mine or other working establishment in his lifetime. He preferred to associate with embittered, middle-class intellectuals such as himself.
Like many critics, he had no interest in the truth but only in making assertions that increased his sense of self-importance.
His personal life was a total disaster. He was unable to handle money and was perpetually in debt and dependent on handouts from his sponsor, Engels.
He led a spectacularly unhealthy life, drank and smoked a lot, never exercised, was grossly overweight and had boils all over his body and face.
He was subject to uncontrollable fits of rage and had a nervous breakdown in 1873.
He exploited his long-suffering servant, Helen Demuth, who bore him an illegitimate child, whom he never acknowledged. She was the only member of the working class he ever knew.
His Cuban son-in-law, Paul Lafargue, had mixed white and black blood, and Marx delighted in calling him a gorilla.
In short, Marx was a thoroughly repulsive and detestable character, with no personal saving graces known to history.
That being said, he was a master and expert in what is now known as the sound bite.
“The workers have nothing to lose but their chains.”
“Workers of the world unite.”
“From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”
Many of the preceding phrases have been hijacked by modern political parties and labour unions such as the BIU.
For example, the manifesto of the Peoples’ Campaign is virtually a carbon copy of the communist manifesto.
It has been said many times that the one thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. Maybe it is time we paid attention to the past so that we in Bermuda do not repeat its mistakes.
One way of doing this is not to make a hero of Marx by means of a public holiday. It is about as absurd as Israel making the birthday of Adolph Hitler a day of celebration.
Is the racist Karl Marx and the philosophy that led to the deaths of millions something that Bermuda and its predominantly black working class should honour?
• Robert Stewart is the author of A Guide to the Economy of Bermuda