From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Why Marx is coming under attack
IT IS not merely socialists who are appalled by the second attack on Karl Marx’s Highgate Cemetery tomb in a fortnight. No-one who respects Britain’s rich heritage can be indifferent to what amounts to an attack on our history through the defacement of a monument to one of London’s most famous adoptive residents; besides which the desecration of a graveyard always has a distasteful aspect.
The attack was nonetheless political, the crude and counterfactual insults daubed on the tomb in paint making it clear that in the eyes of the perpetrators this was an anti-communist act.
It cannot be separated from wider political trends — most clearly the rise of an emboldened far right.
As ever, fascists combine violence and hatred towards ethnic minorities with a bitter hostility to organised labour and the socialist left.
Before Highgate was targeted we had already seen incidents where far-right thugs — sometimes donning yellow vests in a parody of the huge and popular protests in France, which are not dominated by the right — tried to start fights with members of the RMT union on picket lines. Pastor Niemoller’s famous poem on nazi Germany, First They Came for the Communists, identified the order in which Hitler’s machinery of repression selected its victims: first the communists, then the trade unionists, then the Jews.
This is not to say Britain is on the brink of fascism. The far right here is still weaker than in many European countries, and the socialist left, buoyed by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader and the subsequent growth of his party to become the largest in western Europe, is stronger and more confident.
But the causes of disgraceful acts of vandalism like this need to be exposed. The far right’s rise has been facilitated and encouraged by the Conservative-led governments since 2010 and their “hostile environment” that has seen black British citizens wrongly deported and a horrific, sustained rise in racist hate crimes (as well as in hate crimes against disabled and LGBT people — also, we may remember, groups targeted for extermination by the nazis).
The threat to our corrupt and parasitic elite posed by the democratic socialist politics of Corbynism has led to an unending barrage of anti-socialist propaganda from the media. A normalised Islamophobia (with the online hate peddled by the likes of “Tommy Robinson” blurring seamlessly into incendiary jibes at Muslim women from Establishment insiders like Boris Johnson) is then used to smear left-wing politicians such as Corbyn, who are constantly and baselessly accused of “supporting terrorism” because of their opposition to US and British imperialism. This has consequences: the Finsbury Park mosque murderer Darren Osborne admitted in court he had planned to kill Corbyn.
There has been a breakdown in respect for open debate and democratic norms, with socialists vilified in the crudest terms and violence against them increasingly advocated. At the same time our government and media have been complicit in the rewriting of history and rehabilitation of nazism taking place in other European countries such as Ukraine.
When fascists can be greeted with applause as respectable allies in the Scottish parliament and British troops can be dispatched to train Kiev’s military when it openly deploys neonazi paramilitaries in its war with the Donbass, a warped and weaponised account of the past which whitewashes fascism gains currency here too.
At the opening of the Reichstag in 1932 Communist deputy Clara Zetkin declared: “The battle must be fought to defeat fascism, which intends to destroy with blood and iron all class expressions of the workers.” She called on the working class to mobilise the strength anchored in its political, trade union and cultural organisations. That task remains as relevant today as it was then.
The Marx Grave Trust will be working with Highgate Cemetery to restore the monument and decide on how best to protect it in future. Our collective response must be a political challenge to the poison that feeds such vandalism, with a huge turnout for the anti-racist demonstrations being organised by Stand Up to Racism for March 16 and a mobilisation for the Marx Oration in Highgate the day after that.
The attack on Marx’s grave is, therefore, a significant warning of the growing danger to the working class across Europe and internationally from far-right forces that have been deliberately cultivated by the bourgeoisie and given succour by the mass media. Just as the Nazis did when they were in power in Germany, fascist attacks on left-wing monuments and graves are taking place across Europe. In Spain alone during recent weeks, the tomb of Dolores Ibárruri, the … leader of the Communist Party during the civil war, Pablo Iglesias, founder of the Socialist Party, and a plaque to honour the International Brigades have all been targeted. In recent months, swastikas have been daubed on Jewish gravestones and a Holocaust memorial near Strasbourg, France. Similar desecrations have occurred in Lithuania, Poland, Greece, Ukraine and Manchester, England. Such attacks are accompanied by a rising wave of direct physical assaults on immigrants and left-wing figures, including last year’s attack on British rail union leader Steve Hedley and his partner, who was hospitalised.: here.
By Peter Lazenby in London, England:
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Highgate sees emergency rally in defence of Marx’s grave after second attack
A SECOND attack on the family grave of Karl Marx in London sparked outrage today as more than 100 rallied at his monument in Highgate Cemetery.
The latest attack on Saturday saw the words “Doctrine of Hate” and “Architect of Genocide” daubed in red paint on the monument.
In an earlier attack, the vandals daubed a nazi swastika on the grave as well.
On February 4 the marble plaque on the tombstone was damaged by an assailant who battered it with a hammer.
Scores of people held a vigil at the graveside, with London’s Kurdish-Turkish community pledging their determination to protect the grave — a Grade I listed monument.
There were also representatives from the Young Communist League and from Marx Memorial Library chairman Alex Gordon on behalf of the Marx Grave Trust that owns the monument.
Mr Gordon told the Morning Star: “There were about 150 people present, not only from the Kurdish community but also others who came to pay their respects at the desecration of the Marx family grave. There were people from Chinese, Indian and other communities there.”
The speaker from the Kurdish community Arif Bektas expressed the anger of his community at the desecration and pledged to devise a system of security to prevent further attacks on the monument.
Daoud Hamdani spoke on behalf of the Young Communist League.
Mr Gordon said: “He expressed the complete anger of the Young Communist League at the attack, but also the confidence of the YCL that we have to stamp out fascism for ever.”
The Marx grave and monument is visited every year by thousands of people.
Maxwell Blowfield, who works as a press officer with the British Museum, said he was “shocked” at the attack when he visited Highgate Cemetery on Saturday morning.
“[Marx’s tomb] is a highlight of the cemetery,” he said.
“It’s a shame. The red paint will disappear, I assume, but to see that kind of level of damage and to see it happen twice, it’s not good.
“I am just surprised that somebody in 2019 feels they need to do something like that.”
Police said the attacks had been reported, but there have been no arrests.
Highgate Cemetery branded the latest attack, “Senseless. Stupid. Ignorant.” But more than that it is a politically-motivated crime, perpetrated by right-wing dregs who view Marx with such fear and hatred that even his grave is considered a target. The last major attack occurred in the 1970s when a pipe bomb damaged the face of the bust, although a separate attempt to blow up the entire monument failed. Smaller acts of vandalism including graffiti and the daubing of swastikas have also taken place in recent decades. The Highgate Cemetery outrage is only the latest example of how far-right forces have been whipped-up by an endless torrent of official anti-communist propaganda. A report on the attack in the far-right Breitbart News, for example, evoked a stream of filthy fascistic replies from both the US and Britain: here.