Letter to Ludwig Kugelmann, November 29, 1869

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 29 November 1869


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 43, p. 389;
First published: Die Neue Zeit, Stuttgart, 1901-1902 and in full in Pisma Marksa h Kugelmanu (Letters of Marx to Kugelmann), Moscow-Leningrad, 1928.
Collection(s): Die Neue Zeit

To Ludwig Kugelmann in Hanover

London, 29 November 1869[edit source]

Dear Kugelmann,

About 5 weeks ago Jennychen sent you a letter — in fact two letters, one to you and one to Madame the Countess [Mrs. Kugelmann]. With it she enclosed a portrait of G. Weerth — and as this is difficult to replace, and no second one can be sent, Jennychen would like to know as soon as possible whether you received the letter or not.

Some doubts about the inviolability and safety of the postal services have certainly been awakened here because a letter I wrote to Engels from Hanover was undoubtedly opened and then reclosed very clumsily. Engels retained the envelope, so that I could convince myself by ocular inspection.

My long and, to some extent, criminal silence may be explained by the fact that I had to catch up with a mass of work, not simply for my scientific studies, but also quoad International; in addition to have to grind at Russian, as the result of a book sent me from St Petersburg on the situation of the working classes (of course, peasants included) in Russia, and, finally, my state of health is by no means satisfactory.

You will probably have seen in the Volksstaat the resolutions I proposed regarding Gladstone on the Irish amnesty question. I have now attacked Gladstone — and this has attracted attention here — just as I attacked Palmerston earlier. The demagogic refugees here love to attack the continental despots from a safe distance. I find this only attractive if it is done vultu instantis tyranni [in the face of the tyrant].

Yet both my appearance on this Irish amnesty issue and, further, my proposal to the General Council that it should discuss the attitude of the English working class to Ireland and adopt a resolution on the subject, naturally had other grounds than simply to speak out loudly and decidedly for the oppressed Irish against their oppressors.

I have become more and more convinced — and the thing now is to drum this conviction into the English working class — that they will never be able to do anything decisive here in England before they separate their attitude towards Ireland quite definitely from that of the ruling classes, and not only make common cause with the Irish, but even take the initiative in dissolving the Union established in 1801, and substituting a free federal relationship for it. And this must be done not out of sympathy for Ireland, but as a demand based on the interests of the English proletariat. If not, the English people will remain bound to the leading-strings of the ruling classes, because they will be forced to make a common front with them against Ireland. Every movement of the working class in England itself is crippled by the dissension with the Irish, who form a very important section of the working class in England itself. The primary condition for emancipation here — the overthrow of the English landed oligarchy — remains unattainable, since its positions cannot be stormed here as long as it holds its strongly-entrenched outposts in Ireland. But over there, once affairs have been laid in the hands of the Irish people themselves, as soon as they have made themselves their own legislators and rulers, as soon as they have become autonomous, it will be infinitely easier there than here to abolish the landed aristocracy (to a large extent the same persons as the English landlords) since in Ireland it is not just merely an economic question, but also a national one, as the landlords there are not, as they are in England, traditional dignitaries and representatives, but the mortally-hated oppressors of the nationality. And not only does England’s internal social development remain crippled by the present relationship to Ireland, but also her foreign policy, in particular her policy with regard to Russia and the United States of America.

Since, however, the English working class undoubtedly throws the greatest weight on the scales of social emancipation generally, this is the point where the lever must be applied. It is a fact that the English Republic under Cromwell met shipwreck in — Ireland. Non bis in idem! [this shall not happen twice] The Irish have played a capital joke on the English government by electing the convict felon O'Donovan Rossa as member of Parliament. Government newspapers are already threatening a renewed suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, a renewed system of terror! In fact, England never has and never can rule Ireland any other way, as long as the present relationship continues — only with the most abominable reign of terror and the most reprehensible corruption.

In France things are going well so far. On the one hand, the outmoded demagogic and democratic bawlers of all shades are compromising themselves. On the other, Bonaparte has been driven along a path of concession on which he is bound to break his neck.

Yesterday’s Observer (this weekly belongs to the Ministry), referring to the Eulenburg scandal in the Prussian Chamber, remarks: ‘Napoleon said: “Grattez le Russe, et vous trouverez le Tartare'’ [scratch a Russian and you find a Tartar]. With regard to a Prussian it isn’t even necessary to scratch — to find a Russian.

Apropos. Reich, Dr Med., has the Christian name of Eduard, and appears, from the preface to his book, to live in Gotha.

My best wishes to Madame the Countess and Fränzchen.

Your
K. Marx

Couldn’t we have the Bielefeld Freiligrath-Fest-Broschure?