Another day, another quest for statue toppling – in the name of anti-racism. This time Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the scouting movement, is set to be removed on Poole Quay on the basis his views have aged badly. Forget that the scouts have brought thousands of boys from different backgrounds together for a common good, activists have said there is “no excuse for his documented homophobia, racism and enthusiastic support of Hitler”.
Where does this madness end, one wonders? No one can be sure – but what seems clear is that the revolutionaries are rather selective about their choice of problematic figures. They have compiled a hit list of statues to be brought down, in a website titled Topple the Racists. Sir Robert Peel and Nelson’s column – yes really – are in their sights, among other targets. But Marx and Engels don’t make the cut, simply confirming many people’s suspicion; that this campaign has become Far Left ideological warfare.
As far as the revolutionaries are concerned, the fathers of Communism are immune to criticism. No doubt they see anti-capitalist movements as perfect; synonymous with progress and equality. Or perhaps they don’t want to acknowledge inconvenient truths – as it does not suit their agenda. Either way, the lack of consistency shows.
After all, anyone who’s well-versed in history will know that founding fathers have their own troubles. Take Marx, who once praised the work of racist French ethnologist Pierre Tremaux; writing to Engels, he said Tremaux had “proved that the common Negro type is the degenerate form of a much higher one“. Some of his comments went even further than that, and Hitler admired him.
Following the United States annexation of California after the Mexican war, Marx wrote: “Is it a misfortune that magnificent California was seized from the lazy Mexicans who did not know what to do with it?” Though of Jewish origin, his essay On the Jewish Question is infamous for its anti-Semitism, with lines such as: “What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest… The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew”.
But where are the protests calling for his tomb to be dismantled in Highgate cemetery? And does anyone want to rename the Marx Memorial Library something a bit more appropriate for our times? Sadiq Khan? Anyone?
Engels, additionally, needs a review. In 1849, he penned an article in which he claimed “only three standard-bearers of progress… still retain their vitality – the Germans, the Poles and the Magyars. Hence they are now revolutionary. All the other large and small nationalities and peoples are destined to perish before long in the revolutionary world storm”.
Should the statue of him in Manchester come down too?
There’s even The Guardian; it has been revealed that the paper supported the confederacy’s “self-determination” in the American civil war – even writing that “it was an evil day both for America and the world when [Lincoln] was chosen President of the United States”. Should we be shouting outside the paper’s offices – demanding everything has to be renamed?
Make no mistake, ConservativeHome doesn’t vouch for statue toppling or historical erasure; it’s anarchic, and treats the past as though it can be purged for its ills. We believe this censorship is just the beginning; the parameters of what’s unacceptable will widen further and further, and before you know it, it’ll be your books in the firing line. Heads must roll – albeit bronzed ones for now.
But the protestors should at least be consistent. If they intend to topple Baden-Powell because his comments look out of date now (to put it politely), they better tackle the full ideological spectrum. The fact Marx and Engels have not made the cut tells you everything you need to know.