The Death of Karl Marx

Draft of a Speech at the Graveside of Karl Marx
Published in the newspaper La Justice, March 20, 1883

Scarcely 15 months ago most of us assembled round this grave, then about to become the last resting place of a grand and noble-hearted woman. Today we have it reopened, to receive what remains of her husband.

Karl Marx was one of those pre-eminent men of whom a century produces not many. Charles Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature upon our planet. Marx is the discoverer of the fundamental law according to which human history moves and develops itself, a law so simple and self-evident that its simple enunciation is almost sufficient to secure assent. Not enough with that, Marx had also discovered the law [which] has created our actual state of society with its great class-division of capitalists and wages-labourers; the law according to which that society has become organised, has grown until it [has] almost outgrown itself, and according to which it must ultimately perish like all previous historical phases of society. Such results render it all the more painful that he should have been taken from us in the midst of his work, and that, much as he did, still more he left uncompleted.

But science, though dear to him, was far from absorbing him entirely. No man could feel a purer joy than he when a new scientific progress was secured anywhere, no matter whether practically applicable or not. But he looked upon science above all things as a grand historical lever, as a revolutionary power in the most eminent sense of the word. And as such he used, to such purpose he wielded that immense knowledge, especially of history in all its branches of which he disposed.

For he was indeed, what he called himself, a Revolutionist. The struggle for the emancipation of the class of wages-labourers from the fetters of the present capitalistic system of economic production, was his real element. And no more active combatant than he ever existed. The crowning effort of this part of his work was the creation of the International Working Men's Association of which he was the acknowledged leader from 1864-72. The Association has disappeared, as far as outward show goes; but the fraternal bond of union of the working men of all civilised countries of Europe and America is established once for ever, and continues to live even without any outward, formal bond of union.

No man can fight for any cause without creating enemies. And he has had plenty of them. For the greater part of his political life he was the best hated and best slandered man in Europe. But he scarcely ever noticed calumny. If ever man lived calumny down, he did, and at the time of his death he could look with pride upon the millions of his followers, in the mines of Siberia as well as in the workshops of Europe and America; he saw his economical theories adopted as the undisputed creed of universal socialism, and if he still had many opponents, there was scarcely one personal enemy left.

La Justice adds its own editorial note:

"What Marx was in his private life, for his family and his friends -- I have no force to express it at the moment. And there is no need to do so, because all of you who have come here to tell him your last farewell know this.

"Farewell, Marx! Your work and your name will endure through the ages."