A SPECTRE IS HAUNTING MARX – THE SPECTRE OF VANDALISM

Written by Lune Loh

Vandals Make Their Marx, Once Again

On Saturday, 16th February 2019, Philosopher Karl Marx’s grave in London, Highgate Cemetery was found awash in red paint amidst colourful bouquets surrounding the grey marble plaque.

From the pictures posted by Highgate Cemetery’s Twitter that day, one could make out various phrases such as “Memorial to Bolshevik Holocaust 1917 to 1953”, “66,000,000 Dead”, “Doctrine of Hate” and “Ideology of Starving”. This is the second attempt at vandalism on the Grade-I listed monument, meaning that the grave is among the 2.5% of listed buildings that are of “exceptional interest”, according to the National Heritage List for England (NHLE).

The first attempt this month on Tuesday 5th February involved the use of a hammer by an unknown vandal, where they tried to scrape off the lettering of Marx’s name. The now-damaged marble plaque was moved from his original 1883 gravestone into the 1954 monument. Attacks on Marx’s grave is not new – on Sunday, 18th January 1970, two bombs were set off, damaging paving stones and the marble plaque. The monument was first open to the public in 1956.

As of publication time, the perpetrators of either event this February have yet to be found.

What’s The Tea With Marx?

Karl Marx was the pioneer of a branch of Philosophy called Marxism, an entire theory critiquing capitalism, based on observations of class struggles between the ‘Proletariat’ (wage workers) and the ‘Bourgeoisie’ (the ruling elite), such that the labor of the former is being exploited by latter. He formulated his theory along with longtime friend Friedrich Engels, and their essays are collected in the 1867 book ‘The Capital’.

Their ideas, culminating in ‘The Communist Manifesto’, led to the 1917 Russian Revolution and the start of the Soviet Union, headed by Vladimir Lenin, installing his own version of the theory known as “Marxist-Leninism”. Joseph Stalin, his successor, instituted collectivist policies based upon his variant known as “Stalinism”, leading to the deaths of millions of Russians peasants.

Marx’s vandals would certainly be disappointed upon realizing that many of his works remain free for peruse online.

Lune is a core member of /S@BER (/Stop @ Bad End Rhymes), a Singaporean writing collective, and is currently an Undergraduate at the National University of Singapore. Her works have been published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, 聲韻詩刊 Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, Math Paper Press' SingPoWriMo 2017 & SingPoWriMo 2018 and Squircle Line Press' Anima Methodi anthology. She has also been featured at Singaporean LGBTQ+ pride events such as Contradiction XIII and TransIt 2. Find her waxing at lune.city.

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