Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Friday, July 20, 2007

Paying respect

This year while at Marxism, I took some time out to visit the grave of Karl Marx in Highgate cemetery - and pay my respects to the old man. I have been a Marxist for the past ten years or so and so I felt it was about time I did this, especially since I was in London at an event called 'Marxism'. Incidently this was not because 'Marxism' this year was dull or anything - in fact I thought the level of discussion throughout very good and while there was less of an international presence than in the recent past (possibly because many SWP groups now seem to organise their own 'Marxism festivals' rather than make the trip to London) overall I enjoyed it a lot. Finding Marx's grave is not too tricky, once you have located the cemetery itself. Marx is buried with several members of his immediate family - the two quotes on the grave are 'Workers of all lands unite' and 'The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways - The point however is to change it'.

Next to Marx lies Claudia Jones (1915-1964), Trinidadian-born Communist and founder of the Notting Hill Carnival, a quite remarkable woman whose life work remains too little known, at least in Britain.

And opposite Marx is Paul Foot's grave. It reads:

Paul Foot
Writer and Revolutionary
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few

The lines of course are from Foot's beloved Shelley. Around Marx's grave are the graves of several other revolutionary Marxists from around the world - in particular several Iraqi and South African Communists who must have died in exile in Britain. A stone's throw away from Marx's grave is that of Herbert Spencer, the English liberal philosopher. Who would have ever put Marx and Spencer together?

Any interesting points about Marx's grave or visits to it, please feel free to make in the comments box. I took some pictures on my phone but I can't seem to upload them at the moment, which is annoying. One comrade told me that when he visited Highgate cemetery he had a problem locating Marx's grave until he saw a little red squirrel which lead him along a little path through the wood until he saw the statue of Marx's head looming in the distance...



At 10:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is good that the mystic red squirrels are on our side! I think you're too kind to Herbert Spencer here, he is the father of social darwinism and originator of the phrase 'survival of the fittest'. Last time I visited he was more-or-less opposite, more of a chuck than a stone's throw I think - although maybe it's just my ageing memory playing tricks. I did take the opportunity to jump up and down on him, but in no way seek to encourage anyone to do the same.

At 4:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too went to see old Moor in 2004 during Marxism. Nice to pay my respects, it was a muggy day if i remember and 2 women were asking me about him. Seen as i had a STWC t-shirt on. I found the cemetery a little creepy, so no surprise that it is used in horror movies.

At 12:00 am, Blogger paddington said...

Bugger - you beat me to the Marx and Spencer gag...


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