Letter to the Committee of the Social-Democratic Workers' Party, August 2, 1870

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The letter to the Committee of the German Social-Democratic Workers’ Party was written by Marx in the capacity of Corresponding Secretary for Germany. On August 2, 1870, the General Council decided to defer the regular congress, due on September 5, 1870 in Mainz (on the programme of the congress see present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 143-44), owing to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war. The General Council decided to ask the sections of the International for approval of its decision. In its resolution, the Committee of the Social-Democratic Workers’ Party declared its support.

Marx’s letter to the Committee is extant, as it was published, with abbreviations, in C. Koch, Der Prozeß gegen den Ausschuß der socialdemokratischen Arbeiterpartei..., Braunschweig, 1871, S. 51 and in W. Bracke, Der Braunschweiger Ausschuß der socialdemokratischen Arbeiter-Partei in Lätzen und vor dem Gericht, Braunschweig, 1872, S. 154; and also in Leipziger Hochverrathsprozeß. Ausführlicher Bericht über die Verhandlungen des Schwurgerichts zu Leipzig in dem Prozeß gegen Liebknecht, Bebel und Hepner wegen Vorbereitung zum Hochverrath vom 11-26 März 1872, Leipzig, 1872, 1874, 1894.

London, August 2, 1870


First my thanks for the detailed report on the Workers’ Party in Germany. I immediately communicated it to the General Council.

The work which I was asked to write on the relations of land ownership in Germany had to be put to one side for the time being owing to sheer lack of time.[1]

As you will have seen from the Address of the General Council which I sent to you last week, I have incorporated into this address parts of the appeal issued at the Brunswick MEETING (of 16th July, 1870)[2]...

According to article 3 of the Rules’[3] the General Council cannot defer the date of the Congress. In the present, exceptional, circumstances, however, it would accept responsibility for such a step, if the necessary support from the sections was forthcoming. It would therefore be desirable for a reasoned application to this effect to be sent to us officially from Germany.

  1. ↑ Here Marx means the request of the leaders of the German Social-Democratic Workers’ Party, which was expressed in Bonhorst’s letter to Marx on October 25, 1869, to explain the Social-Democratic policy towards the German peasantry and give, in particular, instructions concerning the applicability of the Basle Congress (September 6-11, 1869) resolution on social landownership to Germany. Eager to help the leaders of the Social-Democratic Workers’ Party to come to the right decision, Marx planned to write a detailed answer, but the International’s current affairs prevented him from doing so. Engels provided an explanation of this question in February 1870 in his Preface to the second German edition of The Peasant War in Germany (see present edition, Vol. 10, pp. 397-482) and in the Addition to this Preface, which he wrote for the third German edition of the book in 1874 (see present edition, Vol. 23).
  2. ↑ See this volume, p. 6. The appeal was published in the column "Politische Uebersicht" in Der Volksstaat, No. 58, July 20, 1870.— Ed.
  3. ↑ See present edition, Vol. 20, p. 15.— Ed