The Kölnische Zeitung on the Compulsory Loan

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 3 August 1848

Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 7, 319;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 65, August 4, 1848.
Collection(s): Neue Rheinische Zeitung

Cologne, August 3. Number 215 of the Kölnische Zeitung carries the following appeal to Rhenish patriotism:

“As we have just been reliably informed, up to today, about 210,000 talers in contributions to the voluntary loan, partly in cash and partly by subscription, have been received here in the city of Cologne. It is to be expected that persons who up to now have not contributed to this government loan will recognise and fulfil their duty as citizens within the next ten days, the more so since their own advantage is bound to counsel them to lend their money at 5 per cent interest before August 10 — rather than at 3 1/3 per cent after that date. It is particularly necessary that the rural inhabitants, who up to now have not yet contributed to the loan in the right proportion, should not miss this deadline. Otherwise compulsion would have to be used where patriotism and correct insight are lacking.”

A total of 1'/3 per cent premium has been placed upon the patriotism of the taxpayers and yet “for a’ that and a’ that” a patriotism persists in its latent condition! C'est inconcevable. A difference of 1'/3 per cent! Can patriotism resist this ringing argument of 1 1/3 per cent?

It is our duty to explain this wonderful phenomenon to our beloved fellow newspaper.

By what means does the Prussian state want to pay not 5, but only 3 1/3 per cent? By new taxes. And if the usual taxes are not enough, as is to be expected, by a new compulsory loan. And by what means compulsory loan No. II? By compulsory loan No. III. And by what means compulsory loan No. III? By bankruptcy. Thus patriotism commands that the road which the Prussian Government has entered upon must be barricaded in every possible way, not by talers but by protests.

Prussia, moreover, is already enjoying an extra debt of 10 million talers for the Hunnish war in Posen. Thus a voluntary loan of fifteen million talers would only be a bill of indemnity for the intrigues of the secret cabinet in Potsdam [1] which, against the orders of the weak cabinet at Berlin, conducted this war in the interests of the Russians and the reaction. The Junker counter-revolution condescends sufficiently to appeal to the purse of the townsmen and peasants who afterwards must pay for its heroic deeds. And the hard-hearted “rural inhabitants” resist such condescension? The “Government of Action”, moreover, demands money for the constabulary business and you do not possess the “correct insight” into the blessings of the constabulary which has been brought from England to Prussia? The “Government of Action” wants to gag you and you refuse to give it the money for the gags? What a strange lack of insight!

The Government of Action needs money to make the particular interests of the Uckermark prevail against German unity. And the rural inhabitants of the administrative district of Cologne are deluded enough not to want to bear the costs for the defence of Uckermark-Pomeranian nationality in spite of the premium of 1 2/3 per cent? What has become of patriotism?

Finally, our patriotic fellow newspaper which threatens “execution” forgets in its ardour that the compulsory loan has not yet been voted by the Agreement Assembly [The Prussian National Assembly] and the ministerial Bills have the same force of law as editorials of the Kölnische Zeitung.

  1. An allusion to the closest entourage of Frederick William IV (the Gerlach brothers, Radowitz and other prominent figures with counter-revolutionary aspirations)