I love this painting(?) of Marx and wish I knew who did it. This week has seen a lot of anniversaries. The Iraq war, My Lai, St. Patrick’s disastrous importation of Catholicism to Ireland and 125 years ago the death of Karl Marx.
He would have marveled at the last 125 years even if it has been a pretty tough couple of decades for Marx. I am pretty confident, though, that Marx gets the last laugh.
Recently I have been falling to sleep with a stack of the Letters from the Collected Works by my bed. It’s the perfect pleasure for the wandering mind of an insomniac; going back and forth through the volumes of correspondence of Marx and Engels wherever your curiosities take you. And the places you can go! They read as marvelously modern today as they were then and offer a wealth of insights on everything from carbuncles, claret and surplus values to Ovid and Abraham Lincoln.
Engels (maybe the person in history I’d most like to have an intoxicating conversation with) said by Marx’s newly dug grave on a cold March 17, 1883 of the writer of Capital and leader of the International…
“For Marx was before all else a revolutionist. His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival….Consequently, Marx was the best hated and most calumniated man of his time. Governments, both absolutist and republican, deported him from their territories. Bourgeois, whether conservative or ultra-democratic, vied with one another in heaping slanders upon him. All this he brushed aside as though it were a cobweb…he died beloved, revered and mourned by millions of revolutionary fellow workers….and I make bold to say that, though he may have had many opponents, he had hardly one personal enemy…His name will endure through the ages, as will his work.”
Karl Marx, Presenté.