Marx & Sparks; 200yrs after Birth of Marxism's Creator, His Ideas Are Set for Revival; Revolutionary Words Resonate Today in Divided, Foodbank Society

The Mirror (London, England), May 5, 2018 | Go to article overview

Marx & Sparks; 200yrs after Birth of Marxism's Creator, His Ideas Are Set for Revival; Revolutionary Words Resonate Today in Divided, Foodbank Society


Byline: JASON BEATTIE

IT'S a sunny day in North West London.

But few people are paying their respects at the grave of Karl Marx. A couple of expensively dressed Italians saunter by before moving on to find the other celebrities buried in Highgate Cemetery.

Marx is just another name to tick off in a burial ground that includes the resting places of George Michael, Malcolm McLaren, Douglas Adams, Jeremy Beadle and Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds.

The man who inspired revolutions, transformed countries, sparked wars and turned history on its head has become another attraction in the age of mass tourism, cheap air travel and rampant consumerism.

Many might think that on today's 200th anniversary of his birth, Marx's Communist legacy is dead and buried.

An ideology that transformed history for 90 years and, at its zenith had half the world under its often-crushing rule, was deemed well past its sell-by date by the time the Berlin Wall finally fell in 1989.

But Marx's dreams of a more equal distribution of wealth are starting to enjoy a fresh hearing - and have particular resonance for the millions trapped in zero-hours contracts or toiling in Amazon warehouses or high street coffee chains.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says there is a lot to admire in his work.

And Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell believes there is a lot to learn from reading Marx's seminal work Das Kapital.

Others say his thinking speaks directly to Millennials and is as relevant now as it was when he published the Communist Manifesto with Friedrich Engels in 1848.

Marx was born in the Roman city of Trier - then part of Prussia, now in western Germany - into a middle-class - you might say bourgeois - family.

At Bonn University he enjoyed his new-found freedom, perhaps too much, and was jailed for drunkenness and injured in a duel. He failed to get an academic post and, like many before and after him, decided to try to make a living from journalism.

Newly wed to childhood sweet-heart Jenny, he moved to Belgium then to Paris.

It was there he began to mix with the radical thinkers who shaped his views on the failings of capitalism. It was also in the French capital that he met Engels, wealthy son of a German-born Manchester cotton manufacturer.

t Three years his junior, Engels would become his long-term collaborator, friend, financial helpline and, eventually, co-author of the Communist Manifesto - one of the most explosive documents ever written.

Thrown out of France for his radical views, Marx and Jenny moved to London in 1849 with their four young children and lived in poverty in a Soho flat.

Much Marx's Marx spent most of his time in the reading room of the British Museum in Central London writing Das Kapital.

While he laboured over his a cap warep violent attack on the flaws of capitalism, his family was forced to make regular visits to the pawnbroker to put food on the table.

Marx died in 1883. His tomb, emblazoned with the phrase "Workers of all Lands Unite", also includes the words: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways - the point, however, is to change it."

And change it he did. …

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