New York mayor Bill de Blasio quoted Karl Marx when outlining the relationship he wanted his office to have with the city’s business community, in an appearance on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC.
Host Brian Lehrer asked de Blasio how the mayor was approaching businesses for help with recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Lehrer said that the mayor was not known for extensive outreach to the business community given his focus on issues of wealth inequality.
“There’s an underlying truth in the fact that my focus has not been on the business community and the elite,” de Blasio said. “I am tempted to borrow a quote from Karl Marx here…”
“They’ll love that on Wall Street,” Lehrer interjects.
“Yes they will,” de Blasio laughs. “There’s a famous quote that ‘the state is the executive committee of the bourgeoisie,’ and I use that openly to say no, I read that as a young person and thought, well, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.”
The quote comes from the first chapter of Marx’s Communist Manifesto, in which Marx outlines his theory of the progressive advancement of the class of the bourgeoisie at the expense of the proletariat.
The mayor continued in the interview, “We need to work with the business community, we will work with the business community, but the city government represents the people, represents working people….A lot of folks have just sort of hit a wall when I say guys, you’re gonna have to pay more taxes, and we’re gonna have policies that favor working people more.”
De Blasio ended by saying he knows that many businesses want to help with a “comeback” for the city, and that his administration “really appreciate[s] that.”
The interview was not the first time de Blasio has quoted a communist figure. In 2019, the mayor apologized after quoting communist revolutionary Che Guevara at a rally of striking airport workers in Miami.
“I did not know the phrase I used in Miami today was associated with Che Guevara & I did not mean to offend anyone who heard it that way. I certainly apologize for not understanding that history,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter after backlash from Miami’s Latino community, many of whom are Cuban exiles.