The Communist Manifesto

1 February 2003

Friends who ride to hounds noticed in a recent Horse and Hounds magazine an article on the Glaisdale Hunt. Whenever I’ve seen this hunt it always appears to be completely lost, and I note that the huntsman puts as their main challenge the difficulties of finding a fox. I don’t think there are any in the area. The magazine also contained an article on the Cheshire Hunt. The Cheshire is a most interesting hunt to me because of one of its old, now long dead members, Friedrich Engels.

Engels was the Manchester industrialist who – as the Americans would say – bankrolled Karl Marx. Between them, they wrote the Communist Manifesto, the “bible” of communists the world over, no doubt influencing KK in his non-capitalism, and, through liberation theology, a major influence on Catholicism. Engels’ factories were successful and profitable and he retired prosperously at fifty. He used to hunt twice a week with the Cheshire and he saw off any criticism by contending that this was valuable training for a future general of revolutionary armies.

(He lived with an Irish factory girl called Mary Burns. The only time he nearly fell out with Marx was when Mary died. Marx didn’t realise how much Mary meant to Engels, and did not commiserate with him. Engels was very upset by this. Anyway, when Engels took up with Mary’s sister, Lizzie, Marx always asked after her in his letters. No doubt Mary and Lizzie were two good Catholic girls, but life could be tough in those days. In the end, Lizzie married Friedrich.)

It is from the thoughts of this successful industrialist and rider to hounds and his friend, Karl Marx, that we have the Communist Manifesto, the inspiration for ruthless dictatorships in Russia, China, Vietnam and elsewhere, resulting in huge man-made famines – in Russia in the 1930’s, in China in the 1960’s – the greatest man-made famine in history with 40 million dead, and in North Korea today. Through liberation theology these ideas have put a brake on prosperity in Latin America and Africa, and they underpinned the kind-hearted “Marxist humanism” of KK, which brought destitution to Zambia. The ideas remain very popular all over the world with many of those protesting, marching, and campaigning for peace and the poor.