Letter to Joseph Weydemeyer, February 1, 1859

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 1 February 1859


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 40, p. 374;
First publishedabridged in Die Neue Zeit, 1906-07 and in full in: Marx and Engels, Works, Moscow, 1934.
Collection(s): Die Neue Zeit

To Joseph Weydemeyer in Milwaukee

London, 1 February 1859
9 Grafton Terrace, Maitland Park, Haverstock Hill

Dear Weiwi,

Your letter is dated 28 February 1858, arrived here (or at any rate reached me) at the end of May and is being answered in February 1859. This is easily explained: During the whole of the spring and summer I suffered from liver trouble and it was only with difficulty that I found time for essential work. Hence such writing as was not absolutely necessary was out of the question. Later in the year, however, I was overwhelmed with work.

Well, to start with, I must convey cordial regards to you and yours from all members of the family, likewise from Engels, Lupus and Freiligrath. In particular I would wish to be most kindly remembered to your dear wife.

Engels is still in Manchester, also Lupus, who is giving lessons and doing moderately well; Freiligrath is manager of a branch of the Swiss Crédit mobilier in London; Dronke is a commission agent in Glasgow; Imandt (I'm not sure if you know him) is a teacher in Dundee; our dear friend Weerth died in Haiti, alas, — an irreplaceable loss.

Things have gone badly rather than well for me during the past 2 years; for on the one side the good old Tribune made the crisis a pretext for halving my income although in times of prosperity they never gave me an extra penny; on the other, the time demanded by my work on political economy (of which more anon) compelled me (if with a heavy heart) to turn down very remunerative offers made me in London and Vienna. But I have got to pursue my object through thick and thin and not allow bourgeois society to turn me into a money-making machine.

Mr Cluss was over here last May. I happened to be staying with Engels in Manchester at the time. Cluss called on my wife and accepted an invitation for the following day; and who failed to put in an appearance? Why, Cluss! He disappeared from London and never showed his face again. Instead he sent my wife a scrawl to which ‘embarrassment’ had given an uncouth tournure. He didn’t turn up in Manchester either. Subsequently we learned that he had allied himself with Mr Willich. This, then, also explains the mysterious discontinuation of his correspondence. If we were conceited we would feel duly chastened by the news that a fool like Willich had been able to oust us from the good graces of a shrewd chap like Cluss. But as it was, the whole story was so funny that it eliminated any bitter feelings.

I have broken with Ernest Jones. Despite my repeated warnings, and although I had predicted exactly what would happen — namely that he would ruin himself and disorganise the Chartist Party — he took the course of trying to come to terms with the bourgeois radicals. He is not a ruined man, but the harm he has done to the English proletariat is incalculable. The fault will, of course, be rectified, but a most favourable moment for action has been missed. Imagine an army whose general goes over to the enemy camp on the eve of battle.

You'll have heard that Mr Kinkel has become a famous man again because Mrs Kinkel fell out of a window and broke her neck. The ‘cheery’ customer — never has he felt so jolly as since the death of the old Mockel woman — promptly decided to tout round his ‘grief’. Freiligrath allowed himself to be misled by Gottfried’s melodramatic scenes into writing a poem about Johanna which he already regrets. For he has come to realise, firstly, that Gottfried is merry as a grig, and secondly that he immediately used the poem to disseminate to all and sundry the lie that Freiligrath had entered into an alliance with him and broken with us. A week later, in an attempt to exploit the Kinkel revival sparked off by his wife’s death, Gottfried published in London a weekly dubbed the Hermann; unless this is the Hermann sung by Schönaich and crowned by Gottsched, the title ought to be Gottfried. In the first place the rag preaches peace with God and the world, and secondly it is nothing more than a puff for Mr Gottfried vis-à-vis German Philistia in the City of London. Nothing more pitiful has ever seen the light of day, and we can thank our stars that the 10 years of exile have so completely laid bare the hollowness of our democratic friends. The Kölnische Zeitung is witty and daring by comparison.

What is really choice about Kinkel’s exploitation of his wife’s death is that the latter creature, who was suffering from heart disease, was outraged because our suave parson had seduced a Jewess by the name of Herz, and generally treated her ‘coldly’. In Manchester the Jewish women swear that this is the reason why Johanna Mockel of blessed memory fell out of the window. Anyhow, this would show that, inane though Gottfried may be in other respects, he is cunning enough to exploit public credulity. But that’s enough about this humbug.

The wind of revolution which is blowing across the Continent of Europe has, of course, awakened all the great men from their winter sleep.

At the same time as this letter, I am sending one — indeed, my first — to Komp. I have given up associations — organised ones. They were, I thought, compromising for our friends in Germany. Over here, on the other hand, after the dirty tricks I have suffered at the hands of the louts who have allowed themselves to be used as mere tools against myself by a Kinkel, a Willich or some other such humbug, and since the Cologne trial, I have withdrawn completely into my study. My time was too precious to be wasted in fruitless endeavour and petty squabbles.

And now for essentials. My Critique of Political Economy is to be published in instalments (the first ones in a week or ten days’ time) by Franz Duncker of Berlin (Bessersche Verlagsbuchhandlung). It was only thanks to Lassalle’s extraordinary zeal and powers of persuasion that Duncker was induced to take this step. He has, however, left himself a loophole. A firm contract depends on the sale of the first instalments.

I divide the whole of political economy into 6 books.

Capital; landed property; wage labour; the State; foreign trade; world market.

Book 1, on capital, comprises 4 sections.

Section I: Capital in general comprises 3 chapters, 1. The Commodity; 2. Money, or simple circulation; 3. Capital. 1 and 2, about 10 sheets, make up the contents of the first instalments to be published. You will understand the political motives that led me to hold back the third chapter on ‘Capital’ until I have again become established.

The contents of the instalments now being published are as follows:

Chapter One: The Commodity

A. Historical notes on the analysis of commodities. William Petty (Englishman, Charles II’s reign); Boisguillebert (Louis XIV); B. Franklin (first of his early works 1729); the Physiocrats; Sir James Steuart; Adam Smith; Ricardo and Sismondi.

Chapter Two: Money or simple circulation

1. Measure of value

B. Theories of the standard of money. (Late 17th century, Locke and Lowndes, Bishop Berkeley (1750)b; Sir James Steuart; Lord Castlereagh., Thomas Attwood; John Gray; Proudhonists.)

2. Medium of circulation

a) The metamorphosis of commodities

b) The circulation of money

c) Coin. Token of value

3. Money

a) Hoarding
b) Means of payment
c) Money of the World

4. The Precious metals

C. Theories of the medium of circulation and of money. (Monetary system; Spectator, Montesquieu, David Hume; Sir James Steuart; A. Smith, J.-B. Say; Bullion Committee, Ricardo, James Mill; Lord Overstone and school; Thomas Tooke (James Wilson, John Fullarton).

In these two chapters the Proudhonist socialism now fashionable in France — which wants to retain private production while organising the exchange of private products, to have commodities but not money — is demolished to its very foundations. Communism must above all rid itself of this ‘false brother’. But apart from all polemical aims, the analysis of simple money forms is, you know, the most difficult because the most abstract part of political economy.

I hope to win a scientific victory for our party. But the latter must itself now show whether its numbers are great enough to buy enough copies to banish the publisher’s ‘moral scruples’. The continuation of the venture depends on the sale of the first instalments. Once I've got a firm contract, everything will be all right.

Salut.

Your
K. M.