In an Orwellian twist of fate, surveillance cameras have been installed at the London gravesite of Karl Marx.
CCTV cameras have been installed in Highgate cemetery around the tomb of the revolutionary socialist writer and author of the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx, in order to protect the grave from vandalism.
The cameras have been installed in two trees overlooking the tomb, put in place by the Marx Grave Trust in consultation with Historic England and security experts. The Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust said that it is the first grave in the cemetery to be so surveilled, according to The Guardian.
Marx’s grave has been defaced twice in recent months, with vandals smashing the monument with hammers and spraypainting anti-communist messages such as “66,000,000 DEAD”, “Architect of Genocide”, “Ideology of Starving”, and “Doctrine of HATE”.
Although the German socialist intellectual never advocated for surveillance as such, Marx’s writings inspired murderous communist regimes that implemented vast state surveillance systems such as in the Soviet Union and communist China, from the time of Mao Zedong to the present.
The surveillance states within communist regimes were famously satirised in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, in which the people of ‘Oceania’ were under constant surveillance by ‘Big Brother’, a fictional cutout for the ruling authorities.
The director of the Orwell prize and professor of media at Westminster University, Jean Seaton, said that George Orwell would delight in the irony of cameras being installed at Karl Marx’s grave.
“You can imagine the Orwell humbug eyebrow going up. He would find it funny that even a grave is now subject to surveillance,” she said.
Karl Marx was initially interned in a discreet location in the cemetery, however, in 1956 the Communist Party in England paid to have his grave moved to a more prominent location, erecting a monument with a bust of Marx’s head and gold letters that read “Workers Of All Lands Unite”.
The grave has become something of a capitalist tourist trap, with visitors being charged an entrance fee as well as selling Marx coffee cups, postcards and books.
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