Letter to Friedrich Adolph Sorge, October 19, 1877

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 19 October 1877

First published in Briefe und Auszüge aus Briefen von loh. Phil. Becker, Tos. Dietzgen, Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx u. A. an F. A. Sorge und Andere, Stuttgart, 1906

Extract published in Marx and Engels Correspondence; International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe;

Published in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 45

To Friedrich Adolph Sorge in Hoboken

London, 19 October 1877[edit source]

Dear Sorge,

At the same time as this letter, I am sending you the enclosed manuscript for Douai, in case he is doing the translation of Capital. The manuscript contains, besides a few alterations to the German text, indications as to where the latter is to be replaced by the French edition. In the copy of the French edition intended for Douai, also despatched to your address today, the abovementioned passages in the manuscript are marked. I found the work much more time-consuming than I had thought, added to which I had a nasty bout of influenza and have not quite got over it yet.

In case of publication, Douai must say in the foreword that, besides the 2nd German edition, he has used the French edition which came out later and was revised by me, but BY NO MEANS that this American edition has been authorised by the writer. Were he to do so, English booksellers would at once set about pirating it in England, and would be legally entitled to do so. Although I am happy to concede translation rights all over Europe, wherever there is a COPYRIGHT [agreement] with England, this certainly does not apply to England, that land of Mammon. London booksellers have already made several attempts, frustrated by me, to contrive an English edition without my consent and hence also without payment. I, however, am quite determined that these gentlemen shall not enrich themselves at my expense, be it by a penny.

Just at the moment Engels’ time is taken up in all kinds of ways, first by work for the Vorwärts, secondly by a flood of philistine visitors from Germany, thirdly by his own ‘influenza’, and fourthly by his wife’s illness. This is why we have been unable to tackle the Manifesto together to date.

A rotten spirit is making itself felt in our Party in Germany, not so much among the masses as among the leaders (upper class and “workers”).

The compromise with the Lassalleans has led to compromise with other half-way elements too; in Berlin (e.g., Most) with Dühring and his “admirers,” but also with a whole gang of half-mature students and super-wise doctors who want to give socialism a “higher ideal” orientation, that is to say, to replace its materialistic basis (which demands serious objective study from anyone who tries to use it) by modern mythology with its goddesses of Justice, Freedom, Equality and Fraternity. Dr. Hochberg, who publishes the Zukunft [Future] is a representative of this tendency and has “bought himself in” to the party – with the “noblest” intentions, I assume, but I do not give a damn for “intentions.” Anything more miserable than his programme of the “future” has seldom seen the light of day with more “modest” “presumption.”

The workers themselves when, like Mr. Most and Co. they give up work and become professional literary men, always set some theoretical mischief going and are always ready to attach themselves to muddleheads from the alleged “learned” caste. Utopian socialism especially, which for tens of years we have been clearing out of the German workers’ heads with so much toil and labour – their freedom from it making them theoretically, and therefore also practically, superior to the French and English – utopian socialism, playing with fancy pictures of the future structure of society, is now raging in a much more futile form, as compared not only with the great French and English utopians, but with – Weitling. Naturally utopianism, which before the time of materialistic-critical socialism concealed the germs of the latter within itself, coming now after the event can only be silly – silly, stale and basically reactionary.

Latterly the governing principle of the Vorwärts would seem to have been to accept manuscripts — ‘copie’, as the French say — regardless of its provenance. To take a few of the recent numbers,— first we find a chap unacquainted with the rudiments of economics providing grotesque revelations about the ‘laws’ governing crises. All he reveals is his own inner ‘collapse’. And then we actually get a pert lad from Berlin being allowed to publish, at the ‘sovereign people’s’ expense, an endless series of articles containing his unedifying thoughts on England and the most egregious Pan-Slav poppycock!

Satis superque![1]


Karl Marx

Apropos. Some (a few) years since, a kind of Blue Book (whether official or not, I don’t know) came out on the conditions of the MINERS in Pennsylvania who are known to be in a state of altogether feudal dependence on their MONEY LORDS (I believe the thing came out after a bloody encounter). It is of the utmost importance that I should have that publication and, if you can get hold of it for me, I will send you what it costs; if not, you might be able to let me have the title, in which case I should apply to Harney (in Boston).

  1. Enough is as good as a feast!