The people of Trier are bracing themselves for large crowds as festivities kick off today. Tourists can drink a Moselle wine named “Das Kapital” while they navigate through an art installation of 500 red, gnome-like statues of the philosopher. They can then cap the day off by watching a documentary series by a Chinese state broadcaster entitled “Marx Is Right,” while also listening to an official tribute at the Great Hall of the People. China also designed and funded a proper statue of Marx, which will be unveiled during the day.
Karl Marx, one of the world’s most influential philosophers, was born 200 years ago today (May 5) in Trier, Germany. To commemorate the person whose ideology shaped entire nations with his Communist Manifesto, locals are throwing a birthday party—and China is picking up the tab.
In Beijing, Chinese president Xi Jinping is using Marx’s birthday to reinvigorate his nation’s communist heritage. On April 23, Xi said during a Politburo session that top officials need to “grasp the power of the truth of Marxism” and view the party as the heir of the “spirit of the Communist Manifesto.”
“Xi is depending on restoring the theoretical soul of the Chinese people,” said Sidney Rittenberg, a journalist who joined Mao Zedong’s revolution and served for years as his translator, to Bloomberg. “They built a better life and made money, but they lost their soul and I think he’s trying to restore that.”
While the people of Trier have welcomed China paying for festivities, a city spokesperson told the Xinhua news agency that locals “have long been a bit ashamed about Marx” and they are “aware of the fact that this is part of a larger Marx revival in China.”