Letter to Sigfrid Meyer, April 30, 1867

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To Sigfrid Meyer in New York

Hanover, 30 April 1867[edit source]

Dear Friend,

You must think very badly of me, and all the more so when I tell you that your letters did not merely give me great pleasure but were a real comfort to me since they reached me at a time of great affliction. The knowledge that a capable man, à la hauteur des principes, has been won for our party, is some compensation to me for the worst. Your letters were furthermore full of such warm friendship for me personally, and you will appreciate that I who am engaged in a most bitter struggle with the (official) world can least afford to underestimate such things.

Why then did I not answer you? Because I was the whole time at death’s door. I thus had to make use of every moment when I was capable of work to complete my book [Capital] to which I have sacrificed my health, happiness, and family. I hope this explanation suffices. I laugh at the so-called ‘practical’ men and their wisdom. If one wanted to be an ox, one could, of course, turn one’s back on the sufferings of humanity and look after one’s own hide. But I should really have thought myself unpractical if I had pegged out without finally completing my book, at least in manuscript.

The first volume of the book will be published by Otto Meissner in Hamburg in a few weeks. The title of the work is: ‘Capital. A Critique of Political Economy’. I travelled to Germany to bring over the manuscript, and I am spending a few days with a friend in Hanover on my way back to London.

Volume I comprises the ‘Process of Production of Capital’. As well as setting out the general theory, I examine in great detail the conditions of the English — agricultural and industrial — proletariat over the last 20 years, ditto the condition of Ireland, basing myself on official sources that have never previously been used. You will immediately realise that all this serves me solely as an argumentum ad hominem.

I hope that a year from now the whole work will have appeared. Volume II contains the continuation and conclusion of the theory, Volume III the history of political economy from the middle of the 17th century.

As to the ‘International Working Men’s Association’, it has become a power to be reckoned with in England, France, Switzerland, and Belgium. You should form as many branches as possible in America. Contribution per member 1 penny (about 1 silver groschen) per year. However, every branch gives what it can. Congress in Lausanne this year, 3 September. Every branch can send one representative. Do write to me about this matter, about how you are faring in America and about conditions in general. If you do not write, I shall take it as showing that you have not yet absolved me.

With warmest greetings

Karl Marx