Marx and Engels had definite views on the historic roles of races and nations; though the article only mentions briefly in passing their ideas of historical and non-historical peoples and progressive and non-progressive nations that they applied to world history. Rosdolsky’s Engels and the ‘Nonhistoric’ Peoples: the National Question in the Revolution of 1848 is a marxist critique of this position - see a Leninist review here; https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/revhist/backiss/vol3/no2/rosdolsk.html
But at the first victorious uprising of the French proletariat ... the Austrian Germans and the Magyars will gain their freedom and take a bloody revenge on the Slav barbarians. The general war which will then break out will scatter the Slav Sonderbund [alliance], and annihilate all these small pigheaded nations even to their very names. The next world war will not only cause reactionary classes and dynasties to disappear from the face of the earth, but also entire reactionary peoples. And that too is an advance.' (F. Engels, The Magyar Struggle, January 1849)
Peoples which have never had a history of their own, which come under foreign domination the moment they have achieved the first, crudest level of civilisation ... have no capacity for survival and will never be able to attain any kind of independence. And that has been the fate of the Austrian Slavs. (Engels, Democratic Pan-Slavism, February 1849)
This racial hierarchy was applied globally:
There are “various disturbing references to the Latin American character. Thus the Mexicans are said to be “lazy” and to share “the vices, arrogance, thuggery and quixotism” of the Spaniards. Even after 1860, when Marx and Engels strongly opposed the French invasion of Mexico and celebrated the Mexican victory over General Lorencez in May 1862, they still could not refrain from from referring to the victorious Mexicans as “les derniers des hommes” [the last of men]. ... this kind of abusive remark was also used by Marx and Engels to refer to other “backward” nationalities and countries: the Montenegrans were labelled as “cattle robbers,” the Bedouins were branded as a “nation of robbers,” and there was a reference to the “hereditary stupidity” of the Chinese.” (Karl Marx’s Social and Political Thought, Vol. 6, Routledge, 1999 – edited by Jessop & Wheatley.)
None of this invalidates what value there is in the thought of Marx & Engels but it does show that they shared many of the faults of their contemporaries and rivals. While Bakunin’s anti-Semitism seems to have been plain old personal bigotry, Marx and Engels dressed their racism up in ‘scientific’ garb with references to the historically positive or negative, progressive or decadent roles supposedly played by different races.
Marx’s own daughter Laura married the French socialist, Paul Lafargue, whose ancestry was partly Negro. Curiously in the very same letter to Engels in 1866 which announced the betrothal of his daughter, Marx indicated his belief (following the French anthropologist Trémaux) in the relative inferiority of the Negro race, and the existence of intrinsic racial differences between the Slavs and Lithuanians; “the common Negro type was a degeneration form a quite higher one”, he quoted approvingly. (L. S. Feuer – Introduction to Marx & Engels, Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy; Fontana, UK, 1984.)
Marx’s anti-Semitism was not so different from Bakunin’s: he also sees Jews as money obsessed, racially degenerate and as shadowy controllers of financial systems. For comparison, see: http://libcom.org/library/translation-antisemitic-section-bakunins-letter-comrades-jura-federation
Marx, Engels, Bakunin and their contemporaries were people of their time; since then, the whole 19th century notion of ‘race’, its biological and genetic validity, has become outdated in the light of scientific developments on the subject. Yet racism, pseudo-scientific or otherwise, in left- and right-wing versions, is still with us.
(Article source: W. O. Henderson, Marx and Engels and the English Workers And Other Essays (1989), Frank Cass & Co., UK.)