Letter to Friedrich Engels, December 14, 1868

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 14 December 1868


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Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence;
Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe
Published in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 43

To Engels in Manchester


[London,] 14 December 1868

DEAR FRED,

On Saturday evening[1] Ténot (Paris and Provinces)[2] and the proceedings of the Baudin trial[3] arrived. I am sending you Ténot (Paris) and Baudin today. The Ténot (Provinces) you will receive in a few days. You can bring the whole lot back yourself, for nobody in the house except me has yet read the things.

In the Ténot (Paris) I find little new, except a few details—I have not yet read the Provinces. The enormous sensation created by the book in Paris, and in France as a whole, proves a very interesting FACT, namely that the generation that has grown up under Badinguet[4] knew nothing at all about the history of the regime under which it is living. Now the fellows are rubbing their eyes and are quite thunderstruck. If one may parva componere magnis,[5] have we not had precisely the same experience in our own way? In Germany the story is spreading, as a remarkable novelty, that Lassalle was only one of our satellites, and that he did not discover the ‘class struggle’.

I can discover nothing special in the speech by Gambetta,[6] who is now being lionised in France. His manner reminds me strikingly of Michel de Bourges. This Michel also made his name through a political trial. A few months before the February revolution he declared that he had abandoned his belief in ‘democracy’, since it always turned into ‘demagogy’. Of course, this did not prevent him from shining as a républicain de la veille[7] after February, and rendering excellent service to Bonaparte, nolens or volens,[8] particularly in the question of quaestors.[9] He was also MORE OR LESS in contact with the republican ‘Plon-Plon’.

I was really delighted to read again IN FULL the deliberations of the ‘républicains modérés’, i. e., those seated in the législative, in the 10th Arrondissement-Mairie.[10] I believe no similar tragicomedy can be found anywhere in world history, at least not carried out in this pure form. The Frankfurt-Stuttgart Parliament[11] is nothing in comparison. The French alone understand how to put on a show, whether it be a convention or a rump parliament of thorough scoundrels.

As for the cotton, I have the import and export lists for 1861, etc., in the RETURNS of the BOARD OF TRADE.[12] The only FACT of importance to me was—and this is certainly unprecedented—that for 3 years nothing was manufactured for the home market (I mean from the freshly-imported raw materials during those 3 years, or those only intended to make up stock).

Asher, the booksellers here (a BRANCH of the Berlin one, Unter den Linden) have written to me that they need a few COPIES of Herr Vogt in Berlin.[13] That infernal Wilhelm,[14] as you know, never answered a very pressing letter I sent him months ago,[15] except to say that he had frittered away the 300 copies turned over to him, but that a few still existed in Berlin. I shall give him another kick today.[15]

Tussychen is enraptured at the prospect of having you here with us, and so is the WHOLE FAMILY. TUSSY IS A FANATICAL PARTISAN OF YOURS, MRS LIZZIE, AND THE CONVICTED’ NATION.[16] But you must write when.

Salut.

Your

K. M.


In Balzac’s Le Curé de Village there is this passage:

‘Si le produit industriel n’était pas le double en valeur de son prix de revient en argent, le commerce n’existerait pas.’

Qu’en dis-tu?[17]

Since Nincompoop[18] discovered Serno, he does not treat him so severely. He is only astonished that Serno turned to me instead of to him.

  1. 12 December
  2. See Marx's Letter to Friedrich Engels, December 9, 1868
  3. A reference to the subscription launched by the democratic and republican Paris press to raise money for a monument to Victor Baudin, deputy of the Legislative Assembly, who died on the barricades during the Bonapartist coup of 2 December 1851. Against the background of mounting anti-Bonapartist sentiments, the subscription assumed the nature of a mass political campaign. Its organisers had legal proceedings instituted against them on the charge of inciting hatred against the government. The trial took place on 13-14 November 1868. The accounts were published in pamphlet form under the heading ‘Affaire de la souscription Baudin (The affair of Baudin’s subscription) in Paris, in 1868. The monument was unveiled only in 1872.
  4. Napoleon III (Badinguet is the name of the stone-mason in whose clothes he escaped from prison in 1846).
  5. compare small and great
  6. L. Gambetta, 'Plaidorie de M. Gambetta, avocat de M. Delescluze. Audience du 14 novembre 1868'. In: Affaire de la souscription Baudin, 3 ed., Paris, 1868.
  7. time-honoured republican
  8. willy-nilly
  9. Marx refers to the speech made by Louis Michel on 13 November 1851 in the Legislative Assembly (see Le Moniteur universel, No. 318, 14 November 1851, supplement 1) concerning the Bill introduced on 6 November 1851 by the royalists Le Flô, Baze and Panat, questors of the Legislative Assembly (deputies of the Assembly in charge of economic and financial matters and security). The Bill, which gave the Chairman of the Legislative Assembly the right to summon troops, was rejected on 17 November. When the vote was taken, the Montagne supported the Bonapartists, seeing the royalists as the principal danger.
  10. A reference to the meeting of the deputies of the Party of Order at the French Legislative Assembly held in the Mayor’s office of Paris’ 10th district on 2 December 1851. It adopted a resolution on Louis Napoleon’s resignation from the post of President and the transition of power to the Legislative Assembly. The deputies refused to apply to workers for support. This attempt at legalised opposition to the coup d’état was immediately suppressed by the police and the troops. Participants in the meeting were arrested.
    A detailed report of the meeting was published in: E. Ténot, Paris en décembre 1851. Étude historique sur le coup d’état, Paris, 1868, pp. 142-64.
  11. A reference to the Frankfurt Parliament or the German National Assembly, which was convened after the March revolution in Germany and first met on 18 May 1848 in Frankfurt am Main. Its principal goal was to overcome the political fragmentation of the country and work out a German constitution. The liberal deputies, who were in the majority, turned the Assembly into a mere debating club. It did not dare call upon the people to rebuff the onslaught of counter-revolution and defend the constitution. When the major German states recalled their deputies, and the authorities of Frankfurt am Main banned meetings within the city limits, the left-wing elements moved to Stuttgart and tried to launch a legal campaign in defence of the imperial constitution, but were dispersed by the troops on 18 June 1849. Marx and Engels severely criticised the activities of the Frankfurt National Assembly in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung.
  12. ‘Accounts Relating to Trade and Navigation for the Year Ended December 31, 1861’. In: The Economist, No. 966, 1 March 1862 (supplement). As a separate edition the accounts appeared under the title Annual Statement of the Trade and Navigation of the United Kingdom with Foreign Countries and British Possessions in the Year 1861, London, 1862.
  13. See Marx's Letter to Asher & Co, Not before 12 December 1868
  14. Wilhelm Liebknecht
  15. 15.0 15.1 The letter in question has not been found.
  16. See Marx's Letter to Friedrich Engels, August 4, 1868
  17. ‘If the industrial product did not have twice the value of its production cost in money, commerce would not exist.’ What do you say to that?
  18. Sigismund Borkheim