Letter to Ludwig Kugelmann, March 17, 1868

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Dear Friend

Your letter affected me both unpleasantly and pleasantly (you see, I always move in dialectical contradictions).

Unpleasantly, because I know your circumstances and it would be rotten of me if I were to accept such presents at the expense of your family. I therefore regard these £15 as a loan, which I shall in time repay.

Pleasantly, not only as a mark of your great friendship (and in the bustle of the world friendship is the only personal thing that matters), but also because you have helped me out of a very difficult position in regard to the forthcoming marriage. Apart from medicines and doctors, I have spent so much money in the last four months on blue books, enquiries and Yankee reports, etc, on banks, that I really had nothing left for my daughter.

You may be sure that I have often discussed leaving London for Geneva, not only with myself and my family, but also with Engels. Here I have to spend from £400 to £500 annually; in Geneva I could live on £200. But considered all in all, it is for the time being impossible. I can finish my work only in London. And only here can I hope to draw at least a comparatively decent monetary profit from this work. But to do that I must stay here for a time. Apart from the fact that, if I were to leave here at this critical time, the whole labour movement, which I influence from behind the scenes, would fall into very bad hands and go the wrong way.

So, for the time being, all drawbacks notwithstanding, fate ties me to London. Quant à[1] Koppel, you do him wrong. Had I not been ill, he would have amused me and such a diversion never hurts the family.

Engels and I have not written for Liebknecht’s paper hitherto. (Engels has now sent him two articles on my book.) Eccarius[2] is the usual London correspondent.

Borkheim[3] wrote an article against Herzen[4] and company.

M’s[5] letter gave me great pleasure. But he has to some extent misunderstood my development of the subject. Otherwise he would have seen that I described large-scale industry not only as the mother of the antagonism, but also as the producer of the material and spiritual conditions for resolving that antagonism, although it is true the solution cannot proceed along pleasant lines.

With regard to Factory Acts – as the primary condition for giving the working class elbow-room for development and movement – I demand them from the state, as a compulsory law, not only against the manufacturers, but against the workers themselves (on page 542, note 52,[6] I refer to the resistance offered by working women to a limitation of the working day). If Herr M develops the same energy as Owen,[7] he can break that resistance. That the individual manufacturer (apart from the extent to which he tries to affect legislation) can do little in the matter, I also say on page 243:[8] ‘But looking at things as a whole, all this does not, indeed, depend on the good or ill will of the individual capitalist [etc].’ See also note 114 (p 260).[9] That, nevertheless, the individual can do something has been clearly demonstrated by such manufacturers as Fielden,[10] Owen, etc. Their main effectiveness must of course be of a public nature. As for the Dolfuses[11] in Alsace, they are humbugs, who have managed, by the conditions enumerated in their contracts, to establish a comfortable serf-relationship to their workers which is at the same time very profitable to them. They have been thoroughly exposed in the Paris press and for that very reason one of the Dolfuses, a short time ago, introduced and got carried in the corps législatif[12] one of the most infamous paragraphs of the press law – that ‘la vie privée doit etre murée’.[13]

With warmest greetings to your dear wife.

Karl Marx

À propos: Have you seen that my personal enemy, Schweitzer,[14] has heaped eulogies on my head in six numbers of the Sozialdemokrat because of my book? Very painful for that old harlot Hatzfeld.[15]

  1. As to – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  2. George Eccarius (1818-1889) – German socialist, living in London. Secretary of the General Council of the First International and active participant in the London trade-union movement – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  3. Sigismund Borkheim (1825-1885) – German merchant and publicist who took an active part in the 1848 Revolution. Fled to Switzerland and later settled in London, where in the 1860s he became a close friend of Marx and Engels – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  4. Alexander Herzen (1812-1870) – Famous Russian politician and writer. One of the founders of the Narodnik movement and Russian liberalism. Lived in emigration, chiefly in London and Geneva.
  5. Menke – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  6. Capital, p 556, note 4, English edition – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  7. Robert Owen (1771-1858) – The most prominent English utopian socialist – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  8. Capital, p 255, English edition – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  9. Capital, p 284, note 2, English edition – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  10. John Fielden (1784-1849) – Economist, manufacturer and advocate of labour legislation. Author of the book The Curse of the Factory System. Came out against child labour in England – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  11. Jean Dolfus (1808-1887) – Alsatian manufacturer and free-trader. Became known on account of the cheap dwellings he caused to be built for his workers, with a view to keeping them in bondage – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  12. Legislative corps – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  13. Private life should be enclosed by a wall – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  14. Johann Baptist Schweitzer (1833-1875) – German working-class leader; friend of Lassalle. After the death of Lassalle, leader of the Lassalleans until 1871 – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.
  15. Countess Sophie von Hatzfeld (1806-1881) – Friend of Lassalle, who conducted her divorce case 1848-54. After his death she broke with the Lassallean General Association of German Workers – Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute.