by Ralph Keller
Sunday, May 5th 2018, was Karl Marx’s 200th birthday. SWR Aktuell,1 a German media company, reportes that his birth town of Trier in Germany unveiled a 5.5m tall statue of one of humanity’s greatest thinkers. The statue, a present from China, is located in the town’s centre, in Simeonstift Square.
Erecting the statue has not been without controversy, however. SWR Aktuell also reported that various groups, among them the right-wing populists called Pegida, as well as the Berlin Memorial of the Victims of Communism, have heavily criticised the town of Trier. The Berlin Memorial group in particular insisted that the town should attach a plaque to the statue, because simply erecting Marx is a tribute that does not engage in critical debate. The town refused, and instead placed the plaque nearby.
The controversy arose because critics continue to hold Marx responsible for the failed state-capitalist systems that existed in eastern Europe after World War II. Yet critics fail to acknowledge, and indeed are not even aware of, MHI’s position on the issue, which is rooted in the Johnson-Forest Tendency’s political and economic analysis of the USSR. Crucially, the analysis directly draws from Marx’s Capital, which makes it a frustrating but also strangely amusing matter to hold Marx responsible for what 20th Century revolutionaries made of him. The analysis of state-capitalism is available in Raya Dunayesvskaya’s Marxism & Freedom: From 1776 until Today.
1Südwestrundfunk; Southwest Broadcasting