Letter to Friedrich Engels, March 14, 1869

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 14 March 1869


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 43, p. 239;
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, 14 March 1869[edit source]

Dear Fred,

From the enclosed letter from Meissner you can see how things look with the Louis Bonaparte. Since Meissner told me directly (personally) that he only publishes pamphlets occasionally, now and then, in order to oblige, something of which you need not be aware, I would prefer you to write to him direct about the Peasant War. If nothing emerges, I shall write to Eichhoff, with whom I maintain ‘International’ relations.

Liebknecht has the gift of gathering the stupidest people in Germany around him. Exempli causa the author of ‘Die demokratischen Ziele und die deutschen Arbeiter’. This stuff can only be read, even to oneself, in south German patois. This dunderhead requests the workers to rid him of Bismarck and then promises to provide them with ‘full freedom of movement’ and other socialist achievements! Horreur!

The man from Zukunft is infinitely more cunning and sharp in the north German way. But with him, too, the upshot is that the workers should pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the democratic gentlemen and should not, for the time being, indulge in such pursuits as trades unions. If these gentlemen are such hot-headed friends of direct revolutionary action, why don’t they set the example, instead of writing careful and reserved articles for Zukunft! Do they expect such stuff to awaken revolutionary passion? That won’t catch anybody!

The reply to the Genevans has been sent off. In the French text I kept the tone still icier and passablement ironique. Luckily, this was not noticed by the English, who naturally only know my English translation.

Apart from the official communication about which I told you, the gentlemen also sent a 4-page private letter to Eccarius, according to which a direct breach had only been avoided thanks to the efforts of Becker, Bakunin, and Perret, author of the document. Their ‘revolutionary’ programme had had more effect in some weeks in Italy, Spain, etc., than that of the International Working Men’s Association had in years. If we should reject their ‘revolutionary programme’, we would [produce] a separation between the countries with a ‘revolutionary’ workers’ movement (these are listed as France, where they have all of 2 correspondents, Switzerland(!) Italy — where the workers, apart from those who belong to us, are simply a tail to Mazzini — and Spain, where there are more clerics than workers) and those with a more gradual development of the working class (viz., England, Germany, the United States and Belgium). Thus, a separation between the volcanic and plutonic workers’ movement on the one hand, and the aqueous movement on the other.

That the Swiss should represent the revolutionary type is really amusing.

Old Becker must have become very stupid if he really believes that Bakunin has invented a ‘programme’.

Your
K. M.