Letter to Ludwig Kugelmann, December 5, 1868

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To Ludwig Kugelmann in Hanover

London, 5 December 1868[edit source]

Dear Kugelmann,

Have you got Dietzgen’s address? Quite a while ago he sent me a fragment of a manuscript on ‘intellectual capacity’, which, despite a certain confusion and too frequent repetitions, contained much that was excellent, and — as the independent product of a worker — even admirable. I did not reply immediately after reading it through, since I wanted to hear Engels’ opinion so I sent him the manuscript. A long time passed before I got it back. And now I cannot find Dietzgen’s letter with his new address. He wrote me, to wit, in his last letter from Petersburg, that he would return to the Rhine and settle there. Have you perhaps received his address from him? If so, be so kind as to send it to me by return. My conscience — one never becomes completely free of this sort of thing — is pricking me for leaving Dietzgen so long without a reply. You also promised to tell me something about his personality.

I have received Büchner’s lectures on Darwinism. He is obviously a ‘book-maker’ and probably for this reason is called ‘Büchner’. His superficial babble about the history of materialism is obviously copied from Lange. The way such a whipper-snapper disposes of, e.g., Aristotle — quite a different sort of natural philosopher from Büchner — is really astonishing. It is also very naive of him to say, referring to Cabanis, ‘you might almost be listening to Karl Vogt’. As if Cabanis copied Vogt!

Some time ago I promised to write you a few words about the French Branch. These ragamuffins are, a half or 2/3 of them, maquereaux [pimps] and such-like rabble, and all of them — after our people had withdrawn — heroes of the revolutionary phrase, who, from a safe distance, of course, kill kings and emperors, in particular Louis Napoleon. In their eyes we are, naturally, reactionaries, and they drew up, in all due form, an indictment against us, which was, in fact, submitted to the Brussels Congress — in the closed sessions. The fury of these blacklegs was heightened by the fact that they had been taken over by Felix Pyat, a failed French fourth-class author of melodramas, who, in the revolution of ‘48, was only used as a Toastmaster — (the name given by the English to the men paid to announce the toasts at public banquets, or to supervise the order of the toasts) — a man who has a perfect monomania ‘to shout in a whisper’ and to play the dangerous conspirator. Pyat wanted to use this gang to convert the ‘International Working Men’s Association’ into his following. In particular, the aim was to compromise us. Thus, at a public meeting which the French Branch announced and trumpeted by poster as a meeting of the International Association, Louis Napoleon, alias Badinguet, was in all due form sentenced to death, the execution naturally being left to the nameless Brutuses of Paris. Since the English press paid no attention to this farce, we also would have passed it over in silence. But one of the gang — a certain Vésinier, a circulator of chantange [blackmail] literature — spread the whole muck in the Belgian paper La Cigale, which claims to be an organ of the ‘International’, a sort of ‘comic’ paper, the like of which certainly cannot be found anywhere else in Europe. There is, you see, nothing comic about it except its seriousness. From the Cigale the stuff found its way into the Pays, journal de l'Empire. It was naturally grist to the mill of Paul de Cassagnac. Thereupon we — i.e. the General Council — officially announced, in 6 lines in the Cigale, that F. Pyat had absolutely no connection with the ‘International’, of which he was not even a member. Hinc illae irae! This frog-and-mouse war ended when the French Branch rancorously withdrew from us, and it now goes about its business on its own, under Pyat’s auspices. They have established here, in London, as a succursale, a so-called German Agitational Association, consisting of a dozen and a half, headed by an old refugee from the Palatinate, the half-crazy watchmaker Weber. Now you know all there is to know about this solemn, highfalutin and important event. Just one thing more. We had the satisfaction that Blanqui, through one of his friends, writing ditto in the Cigale, made Pyat absolutely ridiculous, leaving him only the alternative of being either a monomaniac or a police agent.

Yesterday evening I received a letter from Schweitzer announcing that he was off to the cachot [gaol] again, and that the outbreak of civil war — that is, war between him and W. Liebknecht — is unavoidable. I must say that Schweitzer is right on one point, that is, Liebknecht’s incompetence. His sheet is really wretched. How can a man whom I crammed orally for 15 years (he was always too lazy to read) have such things published as, for instance, Society and State, in which ‘the social’ (and that’s a fine category too!) is treated as the secondary, and ‘the political’ as the essential ? This would be incomprehensible were it not that Liebknecht is a South German, and seems always to have confused me with his old superior, the ‘noble’ Gustav Struve.

Lafargue and wife have been in Paris for 2 months. There, however, they don’t want to recognise the medical qualifications he achieved in London, and demand that he take 5 new ‘Paris’ exams!

As the result of a settlement, my ‘economic’ (not politico-economic) circumstances will take a satisfactory form from next year.

With best greetings to your dear wife and Fränzchen.

Karl Marx

Is your wife also active in the German ladies’ great emancipation campaign? I think that German women should begin by driving their husbands to self-emancipation.