Letter to Friedrich Engels, July 20, 1870

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 20 July 1870

First published abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Bd. IV, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Abt. III, Bd. 4, Berlin, 1931

Extract published in Marx and Engels Correspondence, International Publishers (1968);

Published in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 44

To Engels in Manchester

[London,] 20 July 1870[edit source]


Enclosed a letter from Kugelmann which significantly clarifies the political MYSTERIES of the present war. He is in the right with his criticism of the proclamation of the Brunswick meeting[1] SOME COPIES of which I enclose. I am also sending you the Réveil. You will find in it the first half of the acte d’accusation presented before the Supreme Court at Blois; what a poor figure the French CONSPIRATORS cut, compared to the FENIANS, as they transform themselves into mouchards without the least provocation.

But the paper is also interesting on account of the leading article by old Delescluze. Despite his opposition to the government, the most complete expression of chauvinism, car la France est le seul pays de l'idée[2] (of the ideas it has got about itself). The only thing that annoys these republican chauvinists is that the real expression of their idol — L. Bonaparte the long-nosed Stock Exchange shark — does not correspond to their fancy picture. The French need a thrashing. If the Prussians win, the centralisation of the state power will be useful for the centralisation of the German working class. German predominance would also transfer the centre of gravity of the workers' movement in Western Europe from France to Germany, and one has only to compare the movement in the two countries from 1866 till now to see that the German working class is superior to the French both theoretically and organisationally. Their predominance over the French on the world stage would also mean the predominance of our theory over Proudhon's, etc.

Finally, I am also enclosing the criticism of my book [Capital Vol I] in Hildebrand's Journal of Economy and Statistics.[3] My physical state scarcely disposes me to merriment, but I have cried with laughter over this essay--bona fide tears of mirth. With the reaction and the downfall of the heroic age of philosophy in Germany the "petty bourgeois", inborn in every German citizen, has again asserted himself--in philosophic drivel worthy of Moses Mendelssohn, would-be clever and superior peevish nagging. And so now even political economy is to be dissolved into twaddle about "conceptions of justice!" That goes one better than the ‘logarithm of stimuli’. As Schiller, a competent judge in this sphere, has already noted, the philistine resolves all questions by making them ‘a matter of conscience’.

Apropos! A Yankee JOURNAL which I was reading yesterday in the Central Council is publishing a series of articles about capital, etc. It refers to my book among others. According to them I believe that the worker must work for a certain portion of the day for his own needs, and that therefore the work over and above that time, which I call SURPLUS LABOUR, forms the surplus value and hence the source of profit, etc. There is something in this, no doubt, they continue, but it is not the whole truth. For instance, the goods produced by a manufacturer = 0 for him until they have been sold. Let us assume then that the REAL VALUE (he means cost price) of clothes, etc. = a By selling them to the merchant the manufacturer adds b, and this is then increased by c by the different businessmen through whose hands the articles pass.

Therefore: VALUE = a. The increments = b + c. VALUE IN USE, THEREFORE, = a+ b+ c. Therefore, surplus value = excess of use value (!) over value. This really beats the ‘FORMULE’ which Frankel learnt in Paris!

Just interrupted while writing. Taran[4], the French Italian, drove up in a CAB (he’s the man from The Pall Mall Gazette). He brought back the things by Lassalle, etc., that I had lent him. He is going to Paris as war-correspondent. Inquired whether I would like to go to Prussia in that capacity, or if not, whether I could propose anyone else. Through him I am now so FAR in contact with the Pall Mall that if I want to write SOMETHING political or you SOMETHING military during the farce, it would be accepted and paid for INTO THE BARGAIN.

Yesterday I heard from Perret in Geneva that our resolution[5] granting recognition to the Genevan Comité Fédéral Romand, in preference to the counter-committee formed by Bakunin, came like a bombshell to the fellows. They telegraphed Bakunin at once. At the next congress the GENERAL COUNCIL is to be put in the dock on account of this coup. It is now absolutely essential that Dupont should at long last send me the COPIES of our resolutions[6] concerning the ALLIANCE. DO press him on this score immédiatement and sérieusement in my name.

The GENERAL COUNCIL yesterday commissioned me to draw up an address.[7] By no means welcome IN MY PRESENT STATE of liver troubles and DULLNESS. If it does not improve, Allen and Maddison, whom I saw yesterday, advise me to go to the seaside, the East coast of England, in fact, because it’s fresher there.



K. M.

Apropos! Hasn’t Wilhelm’s stupidity excelled itself in his last Volksstaat ? [8]

  1. 'Proletarier aller Länder vereinigt Euch!', Der Volksstaat, No. 58, 20 July 1870,
  2. for France is the only nation of the Idea
  3. [H. K. F. Rosier,] 'Karl Marx. Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Oekonomie', Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik, Vol. 12, Jena, 1869.
  4. Nicolas Léon Thieblin
  5. K. Marx, 'General Council Resolution on the Federal Committee of Romance Switzerland'.
  6. K. Marx, 'The International Working Men's Association and the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy', 'The General Council of the International Working Men's Association to the Central Bureau of the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy'.
  7. K. Marx, 'First Address of the General Council of the International Working Men's Association on the Franco-Prussian War'.
  8. This presumably refers to the 'Politische Uebersicht' column in Der Volksstaat, No. 57, 17 July 1870.