Letter to Johann Philipp Becker, about January 13, 1866

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 13 January 1866


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 42, p. 213;
First published: Marx and Engels, Works, Moscow, 1934.

To Johann Philipp Becker in Geneva

London, [about 13 January 1866] 1 Modena Villas, Maitland Park, Haverstock Hill, N. W.[edit source]

My dear friend Becker,

If you are vexed with me, you have ‘every right’ and at the same time ‘no right’ to be so. (You know from Heinzen that I am a ‘sophist’.) Apart from having some 1,200 pages of manuscript [of Capital] to copy and my publisher grumbling at me for a long time now, and apart from the fearful waste of time which the Central Committee, the Standing Committee and the Committee of Directors of The Workman’s Advocate commit me to in this Babylon, I have had the most exceptional aggravations and difficulties in my ‘private circumstances’ which obliged me to leave London for a while and are still unresolved, etc., etc.

You will see from the enclosed note, which I received today (or rather my wife did), that a parcel, which I sent to you about 14 days ago, has been most commendably confiscated by the French police. It contained chiefly ‘Manifestoes of the Communist Party’. Also a note from me briefly answering your questions and telling you that Bender agreed that I should publish your appeal in English in The Workman’s Advocate, ditto a report on activity in Switzerland, etc.

The reason why we decided not to publish any official report on the conference — apart from lack of money and the fact that the Rules oblige us to present a general report to the Congress, such double emploi thus to be avoided — was basically that to initiate the public in the situation, especially the very ‘fragmentary’ nature of the conference, would do us more harm than good and provide our opponents with a useful weapon. We knew that two members of the Central Committee, Le Lubez and Vesinier, were just waiting to seize this opportunity. Events have confirmed this. Firstly, Vesinier’s denunciation of the Central Committee and the conference in L'Echo de Verviers. Directly following that, in the same paper, came Le Lubez’ declaration of principles and draft of statutes that he hoped to impose on the Association in the name of the French branch he had founded in London as a counterweight to ourselves. This plot has meanwhile been frustrated. The branch has deserted its founder. Its two best men, Longuet (editor of the Rive gauche) and Crespelle, have joined the Central Committee. The latter has resolved that Vesinier must either substantiate his slanders or be expelled.

I cannot send you any articles pro nunc. I have not an hour to spare. Engels, however, will do so, as soon as he has seen the first number and knows where and how. Liebknecht will as well, from Leipzig. I will ditto write to Dr Kugelmann in Hanover about it. Ditto to Stumpf in Mainz.

No. 1 of Dupleix s paper is weak. Jung has written to him about it.

Liebknecht is living at 2 Gerichtsweg, Leipzig (address J. Miller [Liebknecht]). In one way the movement here has progressed well, but badly in another respect. The Reform League we founded has held a mass meeting for universal suffrage, bigger than I ever saw here in London . All the speakers were working men. The Times itself was shocked and published 2 leading articles about the ‘ugly’ incident. The obverse side is that this movement is demanding far too much of our best working-class forces.

The Workman’s Advocate is weak. It will improve now that Eccarius is editor. But there are enormous difficulties in raising the money for it.

I have received a letter from Berlin, signed by Vogt, Metzner and other workers, in which they give a perceptive and critical assessment of the present state of the workers’ movement in Germany. The only uncritical thing about it is their demand that I should come to Berlin and take the matter in hand. Surely they must know that the Prussian government has ‘forbidden’ me to settle in Prussia.

Before I hear from you by what way I can let you have the ‘Manifestoes’, I am going to send one experimentally via Mainz. You may be able to make use of some things in it for your paper.

The best thing the German sections can do is for the time being to register in Geneva and keep in continuous contact with you. As soon as some such arrangement is made, let me know, so that at last I can announce at least some progress in Germany here.

I am sending this letter under cover to Dupleix, on account of the ‘French confiscation’. The Empire seems to me to be tottering. D'abord, the business with Mexico and the United States. Then the mutiny of 3 French regiments. Then the student unrest. Bonaparte’s losing his head, as manifested in his row with England about the renewal of the ‘extradition treaty’ and his banning of the lickspittling ‘Indépendance belge’. Finally, the trade crisis, which will be greatly hastened by the present English, resp. European, over-importing to the United States.

Best greetings from wife and children.

Your
K. Marx