Stefanoni and the International Again

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London, May 23, 1872

Dear Editor,

In the Libero Pensiero of March 28, Mr. Stefanoni rightly foresaw that, despite his misfortune with Liebknecht,[2] I would continue to reply with silence to his incessant slanders. If I now break this silence, it is because Mr. Karl Vogt, a man whom I politically and morally assassinated in Germany with my book Herr Vogt, is revealed to be the inspiration behind the assertions of his coreligionist Stefanoni.

Mr. Stefanoni cites, taking it from Vogt’s book[3] against me and the German communist party in general, the fairy story about my relations with the spy Cherval. Yet he takes care to suppress the letter from J. Ph. Becker of Geneva which exposes Vogt’s crass inventions in the most humorous fashion (see Herr Vogt, p. 21).[4]

This slander and others of like nature, with which Vogt fills his smutty book, were reproduced a few days after it was published in the National Zeitung of Berlin. I immediately commenced legal proceedings for libel in London. In accordance with Prussian law, I had to go first through a preliminary procedure, in other words, obtain permission from the courts to prosecute the editor[5] of the National Zeitung. I therefore had to go up the entire ladder of the tribunals, from the investigating magistrate to the supreme court, with absolutely no result. In a word, they prohibited me from embarking on a trial that would have been so compromising for Mr. Vogt (who in his Politische Studien[6] had precisely invited Prussia to take possession of the rest of Germany by force of arms), and also so compromising for a newspaper which did the government’s work under the mask of a fictitious opposition, and which later revealed itself to be the most servile tool of Bismarck—a trial, finally, that would give full satisfaction to a man who was torn to shreds, on command from above, by the entire prostituted press of Germany.

All the episodes of my struggle with the Prussian tribunals, together with the documents I submitted to them in support of my case, are to be found printed in my book Herr Vogt, and must therefore be familiar to the worthy Mr. Stefanoni too.

Mr. Stefanoni also cites my Revelations Concerning the Communist Trial in Cologne (1853)[7] in order to prove what? That I had relations with the German communists. Of that I am proud.

Besides, the true purpose of that publication was to show that the Communist League was not a secret society according to the definition of the penal code, and that for this reason the Prussian government was forced to get the notorious Stieber and his go-betweens to fabricate a series of false documents attributed to me and the accused.[8] Today, in Germany, there is nobody, not even among the Bismarckians, who dares to deny this fact. That Mr. Stefanoni should make common cause not only with Vogt but also with Stieber is too rich, even for an esprit fort of Stefanoni’s calibre.

In your newspaper of April 18, Mr. Stefanoni renews the attack. I had given abundant proof in my book that in 1859 Mr. Vogt sold himself to Bonaparte, taking up the role of his principal agent in Germany and Switzerland. Ten years later, the indiscretion of his friends Jules Favre and Co. merely served to verify the fact.[9]

It is utterly false that I, through some supposed Germanic interest, took up the defence of Austria against Mr. Vogt, the valiant champion of Italy. In the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in 1848-49 I backed the cause of Italy against the majority in the German parliament and press.[10] Later, in 1853 and at other times, I assumed in the New-York Tribune the defence of a man with whose principles I was in permanent opposition—Mazzini.[11] In a word, I always took the side of revolutionary Italy against Austria.

But the war of 1859 was a different matter altogether. I denounced it because it would prolong the Bonapartist empire for another decade, subject Germany to the regime of the Prussian horde and make Italy what it is today.[12] Mazzini, for once, was of my opinion (see Pensiero e Azione of 2 to 15 May 1859[13]). He, like me, was assailed at that time by the inevitable Mr. Vogt.

Although I was ready to denounce Mr. Vogt as a Bonapartist agent, I nevertheless had to deny the authorship of an anonymous circular launched against him by Mr. Karl Blind. Mr. Stefanoni quotes, following Vogt, the declarations which the latter obtained from the publisher[14] and printers with the aim of proving that Blind was not the author of the circular and that it had not been printed by the aforementioned publisher.

Yet if Mr. Stefanoni had read my book, as he claims, he would have found reproduced on pages 186-187[15] the declarations made under oath to the English court by the aforementioned printer and one of his colleagues,[16] asserting that it was precisely Karl Blind who was the author of the anonymous circular!

From Vogt, Mr. Stefanoni passes to Herzen. First of all he asserts that Herzen attended the foundation meeting of the International, and he gives the date of the Association’s foundation as 1867. Everybody knows that the International was founded in September 1864 at a meeting in Longacre, at which Herzen was not present. The evangelist of rationalism, Mr. Stefanoni, handles details of time and place exactly like his predecessors in the New Testament eighteen centuries ago. Nearly ten years before the founding of the International I refused to speak on the same platform as Mr. Herzen, the Russian Panslavist, at a public demonstration.[17]

Herzen, in a posthumous book brought to light by his son,[18] a book brimming with lies about me,[19] does not dare to say that I designated him as a Russian spy, as the veracious Mr. Stefanoni maintains. Besides, those who thirst for enlightenment about the esteem in which the amateur socialist Herzen is to be held have only to read Serno-Solovyovich’s pamphlet Our Internal Affairs.[20]

I have the honour, Sir, of being your devoted

Karl Marx

  1. Marx wrote this article in reply to Luigi Stefanoni's libellous item "Marx-VogtHerzen" printed in the Libero Pensiero on April 18, 1872, and directed against the International and Marx. Engels exposed Stefanoni in the press earlier (see this volume, pp. 74-75). Stefanoni's continuous attacks and his direct contacts with the Bakuninist Alliance and the Lassalleans compelled Marx to follow suit. Exposures made by Marx, Engels and the Italian members of the International frustrated Stefanoni's attempts to subjugate the Italian workers' movement to bourgeois influence.
  2. Planning to organise the Universal Society of Rationalists (see Note 43), Luigi Stefanoni tried to secure support of prominent members of the republican and workers' movement. With this aim in view he applied to Wilhelm Liebknecht. Liebknecht, unaware of Stefanoni's plans and being in the dark about his contacts with the Bakuninist Alliance and the Lassalleans, replied with a letter of greetings which was published in Libero Pensiero on January 18, 1872, of which fact he informed Engels. In his reply of February 15, Engels explained the state of affairs to Liebknecht; the latter wrote a sharp letter to Stefanoni on February 29 to say that he refused to have anything to do with Stefanoni and, in the name of the German Social-Democracy, to declare full solidarity with the General Council of the International Working Men's Association. Engels translated this letter into Italian and had it published, through Carlo Cafiero, in the Gazzettino Rosa of April 20, 1872.
  3. C. Vogt, Mein Prozess gegen die Allgemeine Zeitung, Geneva, December 1859.— Ed.
  4. See present edition, Vol. 17, pp. 60-64.— Ed.
  5. F. Zabel.— Ed.
  6. A reference to C. Vogt's Studien zur gegenwärtigen Lage Europas, Geneva and Berne, 1859, pp. 152-53 et seq.— Ed.
  7. See present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 395-457.— Ed.
  8. A reference to those accused in the Cologne Communist trial of 1852 (see Note 45).
  9. After the fall of the Second Empire, the collection of documents Papiers et correspondance de la Famille impériale, was published in Paris in 1871. It had a note (Vol. II, p. 161) which confirmed the payment of 40,000 francs to Karl Vogt in 1859.
  10. Ibid., Vols. 7-9.— Ed.
  11. This refers to Marx's correspondence published in the New-York Daily Tribune on December 12, 1853 and also to his article "Mazzini and Napoleon" (present edition, Vol. 12, pp. 511-12; Vol. 15, pp. 485-89).— Ed.
  12. On the articles by Marx and Engels on the war of France and Piedmont against Austria, see present edition, Vol. 16. Mazzini's manifesto La Guerra (mentioned below) was translated by Marx and published, somewhat abridged, in The New-York Daily Tribune (see K. Marx, "Mazzini's Manifesto", ibid., p p . 355-59).
  13. G. Mazzini, "La Guerra", Pensiero e Azione, No. 17, May 12-16, 1859.— Ed.
  14. Fidelio Hollinger.— Ed.
  15. See present edition, Vol. 17, pp. 128-30.— Ed.
  16. Wiehe and Vögele.— Ed.
  17. See present edition, Vol. 39, pp. 522-25.— Ed.
  18. A. A. Herzen. A reference to Coopuuxh nocMepmHvuct cmamev. Ajiexcaudpa MeaHoeuna Tepueua, Geneva, 1870.— Ed.
  19. A collection of Herzen's posthumous articles contained excerpts from his memoirs Byloye i Dumy (My Past and Thoughts), in particular the chapter "The Germans in Emigration".
  20. A. CepHo-CoAOBbeBHHT., «Hauiu doMamnin dt>jia. OTBtxb r. TepiieHy Ha cTaTbio ,,riopfl40KTj TopjKecTByeTb"» (III. KojioKOJit, No. 233), Vevey, 1867.— Ed.