Capitalism Gets the Last Laugh: Karl Marx’s Grave Now a Tourist Trap

Karl Marx Grave Public Domain

Karl Marx is buried in a cemetery in northern London. The cemetery draws as many as 200 visitors a day, most of whom want to see Marx’s grave and all of whom are required to pay a $6 entry fee.

Marx’s devotees are not amused by the irony. “Personally, I think it is disgusting,” Ben Gliniecki, a 24-year-old Marxist told the Wall Street Journal. He added, “There are no depths of irony, or bad taste, to which capitalists won’t sink if they think they can make money out of it.” Gliniecki refused to pay the fee and instead settled for a peek over the fence.

The friction between the cemetery and Marxists has been going on since 1975. That’s when local resident Jean Pateman founded the group Friends of Highgate to care for the then shuttered and deteriorating cemetery. She helped clean up the property and reopened the gates along with a small fee to cover the ongoing cost of maintenance.

But in addition to the gate fee, the Highgate Cemetery Chapel also sells “Karl Marx coffee mugs, postcards and paperbacks.” All of this is just too much for some visitors. Italian Marxist Dima Marotti told the Wall Street Journal, “He’s buried here because it’s beautiful, not to make the cemetery profit.” But the question of precisely where Marx is buried is a bit more complicated than that.

Marx was originally buried in a corner of the cemetery off the beaten path of most visitors. In 1956, the Communist Party moved his grave to a more prominent location and erected a massive stone bust on a pedestal that reads “Workers Of All Lands Unite” in gold letters.

Andrew Carroll, a visitor from Montana found the massive monument a bit too grandiose for the founder of a movement based on equality. He told the Wall Street Journal, “It’s such a bourgeois monument.”


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