Letter to Friedrich Engels, February 13, 1865

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 13 February 1865

Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 42, p. 89;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1930.

To Engels in Manchester

London, 13 February 1865 1 Modena Villas, Maitland Park, Haverstock Hill[edit source]

Dear Engels,

You'll see from the enclosed how things stand with regard to our statement [’to the Editor of the Social-Demokrat’] about Moses. At the same time, you will have read Moses’ scrawl in the last Social-Demokrat.

This time I believe Liebknecht is right: Mr von Schweitzer is pretending to see in our statement only a personal attack on Moses; he ‘overlooks’ the stand against Bonapartism, etc., probably knowing full well what he is about. It might perhaps not come amiss to Schweitzer if a public break (who knows whether he has committed himself to something which will soon force one or not?) were occasioned by this Moses business, instead of ad vocem Bismarck? I have therefore written him letter (copy retained ) in which I d'abord give him a summary of our relations to date and ask him where in all this we for our part have gone ‘beyond the bounds’? And I analyse the Moses case once more. I then say that because of Moses’ latest silly outburst, our statement is to a certain degree out-of-date, and the matter can therefore be allowed to rest. As far as the other point in the statement is concerned, the hint to the workers, we would be setting out our position at length elsewhere on the attitude of the workers towards the Prussian government. At the same time, I took the opportunity — apropos of the telegram in today’s Times about the Prussian ministerial statement — to make our opinion quoad Bismarck and Lassalle clear to Mr von Schweitzer once again.

(I would in fact not be at all surprised if Bismarck were to reject outright the repeal of the Combination Laws to the extent that some of the men of Progress have now been obliged to demand. The right of combination, and all that it entails, interferes too much with police domination, the Rules Governing Servants, the flog-'em and birch-'em rural aristocracy and bureaucratic tutelage in general. As soon as the bourgeoisie (or some of them) appear to turn serious, the government will certainly make a joke and do a volte-face. The Prussian state can not tolerate coalitions and trades unions. That much is certain. On the contrary, government support for a few lousy co-operative societies suited their dirty game to a tee. Officials becoming even more nosey, control of ‘new’ money, bribery of the most active of the workers, emasculation of the whole movement! However, since the Prussian government is so short of money just now, this plan is scarcely more to be feared than the Order of the Swan of old!

Nota bene, Lassalle was opposed to the campaign for the right of combination. Liebknecht improvised it among the Berlin printers against Lassalle’s wishes. That was the starting-point of the whole affair that beau Becker has now taken over.)

For the present we should — in my opinion — exercise ‘restraint’ quant au the Social-Demokrat. I.e. write nothing (Eccarius excepted). Things will soon reach such a pass that we shall either have to break openly with it, or we shall be able to collaborate with it in a proper manner. Moses will have to receive his chastisement on some later occasion.

Meanwhile, I am delighted that you have got into the swing again. You are by nature always able to get back to working at speed. I take it my letter came in time?

As long as these abominable Lassalleans rule the roost in Germany, that country will be infertile ground for the ‘International Association.’ For the present, we must be patient. The Prussian government will put an end to this foul morass of Izzyness soon enough.

Apropos. Cutting from the latest Hermann enclosed. You must make a few bad jokes about this notice from Messrs Blind-Wolffsohn, for me to pass on to Eccarius for insertion in his London correspondence. I have been so put out by this lousy correspondence with Berlin (apart from the amount of time the International Association inevitably takes up) that I absolutely must make up the lost ground.

Tyndall has succeeded in using a simple mechanical technique to break down sunlight into heat-rays aria pure light-rays. The latter are cold. You can light your cigar straight from the former, and through a burning-glass they can melt platinum, etc.

  • My best compliments to Mrs Burns. I am indeed very glad to hear that the o was an inorganic intrusion upon her name, and that she is a namesake of the great poet. If Mrs Gumpert declines becoming a member of a Workingmen’s Association, I hope Mrs Burns will not follow that example, but will believe with her namesake that ‘a man is a man for all that’.*


K. M.

Have an eye upon Jones! He is a fellow ‘too clever by half'!

Apropos. I think I should be in a position to send you the cards by Tuesday. I send about 2 dozen, which you don’t need to dispose of all at once. But give some of them to E. Jones.

The latter has written to me about the electoral agitation (whereupon I wrote him that he should write me a 2nd letter which I could read out at the Comité which he duly did). But he didn’t say anything in his letter about the International Association. As he is a fox and I want to pin him down, you should insist that he forms a branch committee immediately (the number of members doesn’t matter for the present) and that he and his friends take out cards of membership. They must realise that the ‘International’ is the only means and method of establishing co-operation (political) between London and the provinces!

Concerning the cards, our Rules are as follows: existing societies (unions, etc.) who wish to affiliate in that capacity need only take out corporate membership. That doesn’t cost them anything, or they can make a voluntary donation. On the other hand, every member of such a society who wishes to become an individual member of the Association, must take out his annual membership card at 1s. 1d. In France and Belgium, because of the laws there, it has ‘turned out’ that they will all have to become ‘individual’ members of the English society, since they are not able to join as societies. Every branch society or affiliated society outside London and environs elects a secretary to correspond with us. We can ‘reject’ people we disapprove of.