Statement in Neue Rheinische Zeitung, April 1849

From Marxists-en
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Cologne, April 14. Citizens K. Marx, K. Schapper, Fr. Anneke, H. Becker and W. Wolff (as deputy) met today as the District Committee of Rhenish Democratic Associations.

Citizens Marx, Schapper, Anneke and Wolff issued the following joint statement.

“We consider that the present organisation of the Democratic Associations includes too many heterogeneous elements for any possibility of successful activity in furtherance of the cause.

“We are of the opinion, on the other hand, that a closer union of the Workers’ Associations is to be preferred since they consist of homogeneous elements, and therefore we hereby from today withdraw from the Rhenish District Committee of Democratic Associations. [1]

“Fr. Anneke, K. Schapper, K. Marx, H. Becker, W. Wolff (deputy)”

  1. The Rhenish District Committee of Democrats was set up at the First Rhenish Congress of Democrats held in Cologne on August 13 and 14, 1848, by a decision of the First All-German Democratic Congress in Frankfurt am Main, on the basis of the Central Commission of representatives from the three democratic organisations in Cologne — the Democratic Society, the Workers’ Association and the Association for Workers and Employers — formed late in June 1848. Marx, who was on the Central Commission, also became a member of the Rhenish District Committee, together with Schapper, Moll and other prominent figures of the Communist League. The President of the Committee was a German democrat, lawyer Schneider 11. When he was elected to the Second Chamber of the Prussian Provincial Diet early in 1848, Marx acted as President. Thanks to Marx and his associates, the Committee exerted a considerable influence on the popular movement in the Rhine Province. It successfully organised resistance to the growing counter-revolutionary forces and, in particular, initiated the tax-refusal campaign during the coup d'état in Prussia (November-December 1848). It did not confine its activities to the Rhine Province, but extended them to Westphalia as well. Marx and other members of the Communist League decided to withdraw from the Rhenish District Committee of Democrats because of the changes that had taken place in Germany and in the working-class movement there by the spring of 1849. The rising activity of workers’ associations and the markedly growing class consciousness of the German proletariat provided the opportunity to create a mass proletarian party. On the other hand, the wavering position of the petty-bourgeois democrats made necessary an ideological and organisational separation from them. Under these conditions, taking the first steps to found a proletarian party, Marx and Engels proposed the task of strengthening the independence of the workers’ associations, primarily the Cologne Workers’ Association, of freeing them from petty-bourgeois influence, of marshalling their activities in a single direction and achieving a unified revolutionary platform. Their withdrawal from the Committee in no way meant a break with the non-proletarian democratic trends. Marx and Engels continued to call for unity of action with democrats in the struggle against counter-revolution, believing, however, that at that stage it should not be carried out within a single organisation. At the same time, Marx established closer contacts with the representatives of the workers’ associations. These tasks and the financial problems of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung were the main purpose of Marx’s trip to North-West Germany and Westphalia in the second half of April 1849, during which he visited Bremen, Hamburg, Bielefeld, Hamm and other towns