Letter to Adolf Cluss, June 14, 1853

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 14 June 1853


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 39, p. 348;
First published: in full in Marx and Engels, Works, 1962;
Printed according to: letter from Cluss to Weydemeyer of 28 June 1853.

To Adolf Cluss in Washington

[London, about 14 June 1853][edit source]

... On the other hand, a reply must be given, and that can best be done by third parties. In which case you need feel no compunction about entering into personal matters and regaling the brutal democratic ‘temperament’ with a few pungent ‘anecdotes’...

In dealings with the Reform I would recommend, besides shrewdness, une moderation extréme. This clever-clever philistine who, in Hesse — and Hesse was his world — represented nothing except the demiurge of this, his world: the petty bourgeois, and who now assumes the air of one who, from the very start, has represented the proletariat on a ‘materialist basis’ — this smiling nonentity who, with Solomon-like dicta, ‘stresses’ his shrewdness and remarkable composure vis-à-vis rebellious parties — this incarnation of a marginal gloss to Hesse’s articles; this fellow, then, does not, of course, interest me — he repels me. But you people helped to make the paper. It appears in New York.

Half Germany will come to New York for the Exhibition. You have no other paper in New York. Might it not, then, be impolitic to throw over Kellner and the paper? It would in the end be doing the fellows another favour. Pretend to be naive. Go on writing; you couldn’t do him a worse turn. Do not emancipate him from influences which, as everything goes to show, have been damnably irksome to him. Do as the Prussian bourgeois do. The government and its Manteuffel twist and turn in vain to rid themselves of the friendship of those bourgeois. The latter, for their part, pretend to believe in the constitutionality of their government, and le gouvernement est constituonnel malgré lui-même: that’s worldly wisdom for you.

The Neu-England-Zeitung is equally unreliable and likely to remain so. Mr Schläger, a pedant replete with platitudes, a presumptuous bore who always knows better (à la Kellner, ‘le mieux est le plus grand ennemi du bien [the better is the greatest enemy of the good]), has written to Pieper suggesting I write for the N.-E.-Z. about the necessary transition from the bourgeois to the communist mode of production.

Citizen Marx with his ‘schematising and organising’ intellect would, it seems, be well suited to this task set him by Citizen Schläger, but Citizen Marx must ‘forego his abstract language’ and write in the same manner as all, etc. Worthy Citizen Schläger! In the same letter he enjoins Pieper on no account to attack Citizens Ruge and Heinzen (he regularly deletes such passages) since the ‘élite of his readers’ (just think what the others must be like!) are Heinzenites, and the N.-E.-Z. is destined (literally) to inherit the readers of the Janus Mighty Citizen Schläger! Almighty Pompey! Nevertheless, I have advised Pieper to go on writing for Schläger.

Le motif est très simple. We are not doing our enemies a favour by writing for them. Tout au contraire. We could hardly play them a worse trick...