Racists in the Labour Closet

K R Bolton

The current Black Lives Matter frenzy over the Western world shows a seething hatred of Western Civilisation and the European that exists permanently beneath the veneer of civil society. The BLM phenomenon has elements of the frenzied fanaticism of the youthful Red Guards unleashed by Mao Zedong during the 1960s Cultural Revolution, when vestiges of millennia of Chinese tradition, such as the Confucian classics, museums, art collections, and libraries were destroyed.

Within the frenetic atmosphere that has reached New Zealand, the Left had turned upon itself as it continually does. Historical ‘racism’ has been found by the ultra-Left, aligned with the Whig-liberals of the pseudo-‘right’, within Old Labour. In particular Labour’s most iconic figure, Michael Joseph Savage has been exposed as a ‘racist’. It is relatively well-known that the champions of the ‘White Australian Policy’ until the mid-20th century were the Labor Party, and the trades unions. W. G. Spence, labour leader and union organiser, stated the attitude of the time that ‘true patriotism should be racial’. In South Africa the Labour Party and unions fought for the White workers against the mine owners that wanted to exploit Chinese and Bantu labour. The miners’ revolt on the Rand in 1922, the slogan being ‘White workers of the world unite, for a White South Africa’, saw the Smuts Government put down the revolt militarily, and hang the leaders. The brutality caused such a groundswell of opinion that it resulted in the election of the Nationalist Party in alliance with the Labour Party, and the implementation of laws designed to protect labour against monopolists, which developed into the much maligned apartheid system. [1]

In New Zealand the fight against Asian immigration was led by our most iconic political figure, Richard Seddon. For Seddon and the labour movement, as in other states, the matter of immigration restriction was a conflict with capitalism and the interests of the British Foreign Office, which did not want to offend its non-white subjects and allies.

Savage Racism

In a somewhat odd situation the matter of Mickey Savage’s ‘racism’ has come to public attention by a letter from the Auckland Ratepayer’s Alliance, seeking assurance from the Auckland City Council that a statue of Savage will not be removed without public consultation, given that the statue was funded by ratepayers. The association’s letter, states:

Savage was an appalling anti-Chinese racist – exhibiting the worst of the racist treatment by the trade union and labour movements against Asians after the end of the First World War. But like for colonial leaders [sic] it is difficult to judge historical figures by today’s standards and we shouldn’t rip down memorials that are a part of our city’s fabric. [2]

Although the press release by the association states the predictable banalities about ‘racism’, the writer does have the intellectual acumen, lacking in most academics and journalists, to realise the absurdity of presentism: using the dominant moral outlook of the present to judge the actions of the past. Presentism is an affront to scholarship, and negates the responsibility of researchers to understand historical events in the context of their times. However, presentism justifies political agendas and ideological dogmas, and eliminates the need for critical thinking. It is an essential component of the modernist outlook.

In alluding to Savage as ‘an appalling anti-Chinese racist’ the Alliance president cites her source as a Trotskyite website, Redline, in an article going back to 2015. Here the author writes that at the time Labour was ‘playing the anti-Chinese card’ in reference to ‘Chinese sounding names’ of those taking over the housing market. Trotskyism has always been the most factional element within the Left, and played the whore to capitalism. When Labour made some lame noises about Chinese speculators in 2015 you could rely on the Trotskyites to defend the speculators, in the name of ‘anti-racism’.

The Redline writer, Philip Ferguson, states that Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford’s reference to Chinese-sounding names harkens back to the racism within Old Labour, the worst of whom was Labour hero Michael Savage. In a bizarre twist of history, necessitated by Dr. Ferguson’s being hide-bound to dogma, he stated that the Labour movement sided against its own class interests and with the middle class in attacking Chinese immigration, because it was dominated by ‘bourgeois ideology’:

… However, the domination of the labour movement by bourgeois ideology also ensured that a number of trade unions and the early Labour Party were enthusiastic advocates and campaigners for White New Zealand.  A number of unions excluded the Chinese from membership and national gatherings of trade unionists demanded tighter restrictions.  From the early 1900s they often explicitly adopted the middle and upper class language of race and these privileged elements’ calls for a White New Zealand. [3]

To the contrary, these ‘privileged elements’ were demanding Asian labour. It is perhaps because the Marxist Left is dominated by ‘bourgeois ideology’ that Ferguson et al are unable to admit this. Ferguson continues:

Labour gatherings after World War 1 indicate that both industrial unions and the party were strong supporters of the White New Zealand policy, increasingly using racial rather than economic arguments as justification.

For instance, the 1919 LP conference featured a remit from the Auckland Printers’ Machinists Union, “that conference appoint a committee to approach the Government with a view to prohibiting members of any colored race from entering New Zealand; failing this a more severe test of education should be placed on Hindoos.”  Instead of opposing such blatant racism, Savage and Holland succeeded in getting a motion passed to establish a committee to examine the immigration question. …

At the start of June 1920, Auckland watersiders decided not to work ships carrying ‘Asiatic’ migrants.  … … The Auckland watersiders also warned of the danger of a “pibald population” if ‘Asiatics’ and whites merged.

In April 1920 Labour MPs Michael Joseph Savage, Bill Parry and Frederick Bartram telegrammed Reform Party prime minister Massey asking that “steps be immediately taken  to deal with (the) menace” of an “alarming influx of Asiatics and other classes of cheap labour.”  The Labour figures argued that this influx inevitably involved “the lowering of the living standards of our people, as well as the probable deterioration in the physical standard of all races mixing indiscriminately. . .” [4]

Eugenics of the Left

Ferguson contends that this ‘was a eugenics-type racist argument by Savage, Parry and Bartram, showing the degree to which middle and upper class racial ideology had penetrated the labour movement’. [5] However, eugenics had always been intrinsic to the Left, while it is the Right, and associations with Nazism that are held entirely accountable for eugenics. Ferguson would presumably regard Sidney and Beatrice Webb, H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw of the Fabian Society, or Prof. J. B. S. Haldane, of the British Communist party, all zealous eugenicists, as having been imbued with ‘middle and upper class racial ideology’. Likewise the Social Democratic government of Sweden under whom 62,000 (90% women) were forcibly sterilised between 1934 and 1976. The drafter of Sweden’s eugenics law was Gunnar Myrdal, who was then funded by the Carnegie Corp. to go to the USA and tell the Americans they must integrate the races, with his seminal study, An American Dilemma.

However, eugenics in the name of ‘social hygiene’ was promoted in Bolshevik Russia under the Lenin-Trotsky reign, and was only terminated by the hated Stalin, Trotsky’s nemesis. While eugenics had been discussed in Russia since 1866 it was not until after the triumph of Bolshevism that the Russian Eugenics Society was founded in Moscow in 1920. A ‘consultative group on the biological question’ was set up by the State Institute of Social Hygiene, the forerunner of which had been established in 1919 by the People’s Commissariat of Health Protection. Social hygiene was defined as ‘a science of the future, which studies and shapes the facts that promote the biological well-being of humanity,’ and eugenics was regarded as ‘the ultimate goal of all sanitary-medical activities’. [6]

White NZ Policy

Returning to New Zealand, we find that when the committee on immigration reported back to the Labour conference in 1920 on the need to assure restrictions, Pat Hickey ‘firebrand’ of the Red Federation of Labour, and leading Labour Party figure called for the racist report to be adopted without further ado and accentuated the racial argument.  The party’s paper, The Maoriland Worker, summarised Hickey as arguing that “It was as far as possible their duty to keep New Zealand white.  Internationalism did not mean a reckless intermingling of white and coloured races.” [7]

During the parliamentary debates on the 1920 Immigration Restriction Act, Savage, stated that the issue was not only one of economics, but the “very law of life itself”, referring to the geopolitical factor that, ‘we are living practically within a stone’s throw of teeming millions, who continue to increase by millions annually, and [in Australia and NZ] there are millions of acres of uninhabited territory’.  Labour criticised the Bill for not being sufficiently restrictive. There was also forceful repudiation of any suggestion that the Labour Party was committed to internationalism before racial integrity.

As Dan Sullivan (Labour, Avon) put it: “What I want to say quite definitely to the House is this: the Labour party is just as keen as any member of this House, or as any person or party in the country, to maintain racial purity here in New Zealand.  There can be no question at all about that. . .” [8] James McCombs (Labour, Lyttelton) then read from the Labour conference report of July 1920:

That for the proper development of the country it is essential that the white population of the country should be increased by immigration. . . that a more adequate check should be placed upon Asiatic immigration. . . [and] that the presence of Asiatics in this country in any number and as permanent residents would result in an intermingling of the races detrimental to all. [9]

Ferguson provides other examples of Labour Party ‘racism’, including that of head of the Labour Party leader, Harry Holland. The 1920 Immigration Restriction Act was passed.

Predictable Bedfellows

The Bolsheviks are joined in their anathema towards Labour’s ‘racist past’ by fellow ‘anti-racists’, the ‘liberal-conservatives’ at The BFD, which states that it offers a ‘centre-right’ voice. [10]

Seeing an opportunity to attack the Labour Party, Cam Slater points out that Jacinda Ardern has a portrait of Savage in her office, whom he describes as ‘an appalling anti-Chinese racist’, providing a link to Fergusons’s article at Redline. Outdoing their anti-racist allies in the vitriol against Savage, the BFDers call him ‘not just a racist, but a nasty little eugenics type racist’, ‘advocating for South African style racism’, by golly (or perhaps not ‘golly’). ‘Quite the nasty spiteful, little racist’, if the reader has by now not quite understood that what calls itself ‘right-wing’ in New Zealand can out-anti-racist the anti-racists of the Left. But worse still Savage ‘held despicable anti-Semitic views as well’. Again Slater refers to the Communist Redline as his source, linking a 2016 article. [11]

Here Phil Duncan states that the First Labour Government under Savage was very restrictive in regard to accepting Jewish refugees from Europe at the time of the Nazi ascent. An internal document within the Labour Government stated that the preferred refugees were ‘Dutch, Belgian, and French’, ‘as the more suitable type of immigrant’. Others were not likely to have their applications accepted, according to the document. [12]

Bad Marx

Ferguson and his comrades ideologically derive from a figure of more world historical consequence than Michael Savage. Karl Marx was anti-Semitic, Slavophobic, racist, colonialist, and homophobic. Does this mean that his bust at Highgate cemetery is a candidate for removal?

Marx’s anti-Semitism is relatively well-known. He stated that anti-Semitism would disappear when capitalism disappeared, because Jews, being the essence of capitalism, a people bourgeois in essence, would no longer exist when capitalism was ended. Marx had written an essay ‘On the Jewish Question’ in 1844:

Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew. What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. [13]

Marx and Engels saw the Eurasians, Central Asians, Slavs and Russians as a danger to ‘civilisation’. The Pole was a savage. Engels wrote to Marx, ‘Nor can a single moment be cited when Poland, even if only by comparison with Russia, has successfully represented progress or done anything of historical significance’. Russian rule, ‘for all its Slavic dirtiness’, had a civilising mission among the peoples of the ‘Black and Caspian Seas and Central Asia, for the Bashkirs and Tatars’. [14 ]. Marx’s aesthetic racism is indicated when writing on the death of a friend, ‘…Daniels always seemed to me like the statue of a Greek god deposited by some freak of fate in the midst of a crowd of Hottentots’. [15]

Having fallen out with his former friend the German socialist Lasalle, over a question of money, Marx wrote:

It is now quite plain to me – as the shape of his head and the way his hair grows also testify – that he is descended from the negroes who accompanied Moses’ flight from Egypt (unless his mother or paternal grandmother interbred with a nigger). Now, this blend of Jewishness and Germanness, on the one hand, and basic negroid stock, on the other, must inevitably give rise to a peculiar product. The fellow’s importunity is also nigger-like. [16]

Of Black slavery in the USA, Marx regarded this as a necessary part of the dialectical process of history, as he did Free Trade capitalism:

Wipe out North America from the map of the world, and you will have anarchy – the complete decay of modern commerce and civilisation. Cause slavery to disappear and you will have wiped America off the map of nations. Thus slavery, because it is an economic category, has always existed among the institutions of the peoples. Modern nations have been able only to disguise slavery in their own countries, but they have imposed it without disguise upon the New World. [17]

Western colonialism, like slavery, was a necessary historical phase, for without colonialism there would be no capitalist industrial advancement of the ‘barbarian’ and ‘semi-barbarian’ peoples, and without that phase socialism could not proceed: ‘When a great social revolution shall have mastered the results of the bourgeois epoch, the market of the world and the modern powers of production, and subjected them to the common control of the most advanced peoples, then only will human progress cease to resemble that hideous, pagan idol, who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain…. [18]

On the annexation of California by the Americans, Engels lauded this as the victory of an energetic people over ‘lazy Mexicans’, and ridiculed the notion of universal fraternity: ‘Or is it perhaps unfortunate that splendid California has been taken away from the lazy Mexicans, who could not do anything with it? ….’ [19]

A thoroughgoing colonialist, Engels wrote that certain races would never be capable of self-government: ‘Peoples which have never had a history of their own, which from the time when they achieved the first, most elementary stage of civilization already came under foreign sway, or which were forced to attain the first stage of civilization only by means of a foreign yoke, are not viable and will never be able to achieve any kind of independence’. [20]

Perhaps most distressing of all, especially to Trotskyites, who seem to have a disproportionate number of homosexuals and transgendered men in their ranks, Marx and Engels regarded homosexuals with ridicule and disdain:

The Urning [21] you sent me is a very curious thing. These are extremely unnatural revelations. The paederasts are beginning to count themselves, and discover that they are a power in the state. Only organisation was lacking, but according to this source it apparently already exists in secret. And since they have such important men in all the old parties and even in the new ones, from Rosing to Schweitzer, they cannot fail to triumph. Guerre aux cons, paix aus trous-de-cul [22] will now be the slogan. It is a bit of luck that we, personally, are too old to have to fear that, when this party wins, we shall have to pay physical tribute to the victors. But the younger generation! Incidentally it is only in Germany that a fellow like this can possibly come forward, convert this smut into a theory, and offer the invitation: introite etc. Unfortunately, he has not yet got up the courage to acknowledge publicly that he is ‘that way’, and must still operate coram publico‘ from the front’, if not ‘going in from the front’ as he once said by mistake. But just wait until the new North German Penal Code recognises the droits du cul. [23] Then he will operate quite differently. Then things will go badly enough for poor frontside people like us, with our childish penchant for females. [24]

As stated, it is a travesty of scholarship to judge people and events on the methodology of presentism. Yet this is the method used by the Left, and what we get when applied to their own icons is an interesting historical and ideological dilemma. It seems however that Savage, Holland and other stalwarts of Old Labour were more in accord with the ideas of Marx and Engels than today’s bourgeois Left, including the Bolshevik grouplets, jumping aboard the bandwagons of Establishment liberalism.

  1.  K. R. Bolton, Babel Inc. (London, 2013), 85-87.
  2. ‘Auckland Council Must Not Destroy Michael Joseph Savage Memorial’, Press Release, Scoop, 12 June 2020; https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK2006/S00324/auckland-council-must-not-destroy-michael-joseph-savage-memorial.htm
  3. Philip Ferguson, ‘Labour’s Racist Roots’, Redline, 24 August 2015, https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/labours-racist-roots-2/ [Emphasis added].
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. T. Ia. Tkachev, Sotsial’naia gigiena (Voronezh: Gubzdravotdel, 1924), pp. 11, 153.
  7. Ferguson, op. cit.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. ‘About’, The BFD, https://thebfd.co.nz/about/
  11. Cam Slater, ‘Why does the Prime Minister the Portrait of a Racist and Anti-Semite Behind her Desk?’, The BFD, 17 June 2020, https://thebfd.co.nz/2020/06/17/why-does-the-prime-minister-have-the-portrait-of-a-racist-and-anti-semite-behind-her-desk/
  12. Phil Duncan, ‘First Labour Government wanted ‘Aryan’ immigrants not Jewish refugees from the Nazis’, Redline, 26 January 2016, https://rdln.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/first-labour-government-wanted-aryan-immigrants-not-jewish-refugees-from-the-nazis/
  13. Marx, ‘On the Jewish Question’, February, 1844 in Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher.
  14. Engels to Marx, 23 May 1851. (Refer to the Marx-Engels Correspondence).
  15. Marx to Mrs Amalie Daniels, 6 September, 1855.
  16. Marx to Engels, 30 July, 1862.
  17. Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy: A Reply to M. Proudhon’s Philosophy of Poverty, (New York: International Publishers, n.d.), pp. 94-5.
  18. Marx, ‘The Future Results of British Rule in India’, New-York Daily Tribune, 8 August, 1853. [Emphasis added].
  19. F. Engels, ‘Democratic Pan-Slavism’, Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 22, February 1849.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Urning, a 19th Century German term for homosexual.
  22. ‘War with the cunts, peace with the are-holes’.
  23. ‘Rights of the arse-hole’.
  24. Engels to Marx, 22 June, 1869.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s