Special pages :
Letter to Friedrich Engels, August 10, 1869
|Written||10 August 1869|
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1931.
To Engels in Manchester
[London,] 10 August 1869[edit source]
I am in a great dilemma with Tussy [Eleanor Marx]. The Lafargues have written that they will be arriving here next Tuesday or Wednesday. If I do not inform Tussy that Fouchtra, whom she loves fanatically, is coming, she will reproach me later. If I do inform her, there will be a tragic collision between her wish to stay with Mrs Lizzie as promised, and the wish to see Fouchtra. I shall leave it to you to deal with the matter as you judge best.
In L'International, the French police sheet, an article ‘La Dictature Universelle’ against the International Working Men’s Association, evoked by the strikes in France, which follow blow upon blow. This article by Jerusalem concludes as follows:
‘Be this as it may, today one is aware that it depends upon the League to bring the life of society to a halt at that moment when it intends stopping everything with one word. If an ambitious minister were to be found who knew how to win their good graces, it may be understood what he would be able to undertake against rivals uncomfortable to him. We are perfectly convinced that this same minister, his goal once achieved, would find nothing more urgent to do than to take radical measures to destroy the League; we do not know whether he would be successful; but at present we declare that the International League is, in truth, the universal dictatorship. Wait until their cash-boxes are filled.'
If the fellow wants to wait until then he will have a long wait. The part of Wilhelm’s speech (delivered in Berlin) printed in the supplement demonstrates, beneath the stupidity, an undeniable cunning in arranging the affair suitably. By the way, this is very nice. Since the Reichstag may only be utilised as a means of agitation, one may never agitate there for something sensible and directly affecting the workers’ interests! The worthy Wilhelm’s illusion that, since Bismarck ‘is fond of’ turns of speech friendly to the workers, he would not oppose real workers’ measures is really charming! ‘As though’ — as Bruno Bauer would say — Mr Wagener would not declare himself theoretically in the Reichstag in favour of the Factory Acts, but in practice against them ‘since they would be useless under Prussian conditions'! ‘As though’ Mr Bismarck, if he really would and could do something for the workers, would not force the implementation of the existing legislation in Prussia itself! Merely because this occurred in Prussia, liberal ‘Saxony’ etc. would have to follow. What Wilhelm does not grasp is that the present governments flirt with the workers, but know full well that their only support lies with the bourgeoisie, and that they therefore scare the latter with phrases friendly to the workers, but are never really able to take steps against the bourgeoisie.
The brute believes in the future ‘state of democracy'! Secretly that means sometimes constitutional England, sometimes the bourgeois United States, sometimes wretched Switzerland. ‘It’ has no conception of revolutionary politics. Copying Schwabenmayer, he quotes as proof of democratic activity: the railway to California was built by the bourgeoisie awarding itself through Congress an enormous mass of ‘public land’, that is to say, expropriating it from the workers; by importing Chinese rabble to depress wages; and finally by instituting a new off-shoot, the ‘financial aristocracy’.
Incidentally, I find it a cheek on Wilhelm’s part to introduce our names ad vocem Brass. I declared myself outspokenly against his tippling with Brass and, at the same time, — viva voce — declared: if this led to a scandal we would publicly disavow him.
The following passages from Daniel Defoe’s ‘Memoirs of a Cavalier’ may interest you.
1. Speaking of Cardinal Richelieu’s army parade in Lyons, he states:
- ‘The French foot, compared to the infantry I have since seen in the German and Swedish armies, were not fit to be called soldiers. On the other hand, considering the Savoyards and Italian troops, they were good troops.'*
2. Speaking of the beginning of Gustav Adolf’s intervention in the German muck:
- ‘First, they’ (the German Protestant princes) ‘were willing to join him, at least they could not find in their hearts to join with the emperor, of whose powers they had such just apprehensions; they wished the Swedes success and would have been very glad to have had the work done at another man’s charge; but like true Germans they were more willing to be saved than to save themselves, and therefore hung back and stood on terms.’*
I hope to see you next Monday.
Do not forget the small note-book I left with you. There are a few notes in it. Ditto regarding the worthy Dühring.