Letters of Marx and Engels, 1846
Source: MECW Volume 38 p. 56
Written: 19 August 1846;
First published: in abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, 1913 and in full in MEGA, 1929.
Carissimi [Dear Friends],
Our affair will prosper greatly here. Ewerbeck is quite taken up with it and only asks that a committee should not be officially organised in too great haste, because there’s a split in the offing. What remains here of the Weitlingians, a small clique of tailors, is now in process of being thrown out, and Ewerbeck thinks it better that this should be accomplished first. However, Ewerbeck doesn’t believe that more than four or five of the people here will be available for the correspondence, which number is, indeed, fully adequate. In my next letter I hope to let you know who they are.
These tailors are really astounding chaps. Recently they were discussing quite seriously the question of knives and forks, and whether these had not best be chained. [probably in canteens which the utopian socialists planned to set up by way of experiment] But there are not many of them.
Weitling himself has not replied to the Parisians’ last, very rude letter, procured for him by us. He had demanded 300 fr. for practical experiments in connection with his invention, but remarked at the same time that the money had probably been thrown down the drain. You can imagine what sort of answer they gave him.
The cabinet-makers and tanners, on the other hand, are said to be capital fellows. I have not yet seen them. Ewerbeck manages all that with his usual circumspection.
I shall now give you some gleanings from French periodicals, those, of course, which are not to be had in Brussels.
P. Leroux’s monthly is almost entirely taken up with articles on St.-Simon and Fourier by P. Leroux himself. [P. Leroux, ‘Saint-Simon et Fourier’ August 1846] In these he exalts St.-Simon to the skies, and does all he can to detract from Fourier and present him as an imitator who has debased and falsified St.-Simon. Thus he is at great pains to prove that the Quatre Mouvements [Ch. Fourier, Théorie des quatre mouvements et des destinies générales] are no more than a materialistically conceived plagiarism of Lettres d'un habitant de Genève. The fellow’s quite mad. Because at one point the latter work maintains that a system which is an encyclopaedic compendium of all the sciences could best be realised by the reduction of all phenomena, etc., to pesanteur universelle [universal gravity] it must be from this, we are told, that Fourier derived his whole theory of attraction. Needless to say, none of the evidence, quotations, etc., provide adequate proof that Fourier had even read the Lettres when he wrote the 4 Mouvements. On the other hand the whole Enfantin trend is described as Fourierism surreptitiously introduced into the school. The paper is called Revue Sociale, ou solution pacifique du problème du prolétariat.
Of the reformist newspaper congress, the Atelier relates after the event [reference to the article ‘Du manifesto de la presse liberals’ in L'Atelier, No. 11, August 1846] that, not having attended, it was very surprised to find itself on the list of papers represented there. Le peuple de la presse had been kept out until the bases of the reform had been decided upon, and when the doors were then thrown open to the ouvrier papers so that they might vote their assent, it had thought it beneath its dignity to go there. The Atelier further relates that 150 ouvriers, probably Buchezists — which party, the French assure us, is about 1,000 strong — held a banquet, without police permission on 29 July to celebrate the July Days. [Engels relates the article ‘Un Banquet interrompu’, L'Atelier, No. 11, August 1846. July Days — revolution of 27-30 July 1830] The police intervened and, because they refused to undertake not to make political speeches or sing any of Béranger’s songs, they were dispersed.
Mr Wigand’s Die Epigonen are here. A dreadful din is heard as Mr Wigand vents his indignation. ‘An A. Ruge.’ He reproaches the latter with the common misfortunes both have endured during the past four years. Ruge, he says, was unable — in Paris — ‘to go hand-in-hand with fanatical communism’. Communism is a condition
‘hatched out in its own, ignorant brain, a narrow-minded and ignorant piece of barbarism which is to be forcibly imposed on mankind’.
Finally he brags about the great things he will do ‘so long as enough lead remains in the world to make type’. The candidat de la potence [candidate for the gallows], you see, has not yet given up hope of becoming the candidat de la lanterne. [candidate for the lamppost — allusion to the ambiguous position of bourgeois radicals, threatened with government repressions (gallows) for opposition, and in case of revolution — with reprisals by the people — lamppost]
I would draw your attention to the article in today’s National (mercredi 19) on the fall in the number of Parisian voters since 1844 from over 20,000 to 17,000.
Paris has sunk low. Danton is selling wood in the Boulevard Bourdon. Barbaroux keeps a calico shop in the rue St. Honoré, the Réforme no longer has the strength to demand the Rhine, the opposition is searching for talent and cannot find it, the bourgeois gentry go to bed so early that everything has to be closed by 12 o'clock, and la jeune France accepts it without turning a hair. The police would certainly not have been able to enforce this had it not been for the early business hours kept by principals, whose motto is: ‘Morgenstunde hat usw’. [i.e., early to bed, early to rise etc.]
Mr Grün’s pamphlet, printed at the workers’ expense, is the one I once saw at Seiler’s: Die Preussischen Landtags-Abschiede. Ein Wort zur Zeit (anonymous); it consists mainly of plagiarisms from Marx’s essays (Deutsch-Französische-Jahrbücher) [Marx, ‘On the Jewish Question’ and ‘Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law. Introduction'] and monumental nonsense. To him, questions of ‘political economy’ and of ‘socialism’ are identical. Absolute monarchy developed as follows:
‘The Prince created for himself an abstract domain, and this intellectual domain was called — the State. The State became the domain of domains; as the ideal of the domain it abolishes the individual domain, just as it lets it subsist, and always abolishes it when it seeks to become absolute, independent, etc.'
This ‘intellectual’ domain, Prussia, ‘almost immediately becomes transformed into a domain in which prayers are said, a clerical domain [geistige — intellectual, and geistliche — clerical]!! The consequence of all this is: Liberalism in Prussia has already been overcome in theory, hence the Imperial Estates will no longer concern themselves with bourgeois questions but directement with the social question.
‘The slaughtering and milling tax is what really betrays the nature of taxes, to wit it betrays the fact that every tax is a poll tax. But whoever raises a poll tax is saying: “Your heads and bodies are my own, you are bound to me head and body. ... The slaughtering and milling tax matches absolutism too well etc.'
For two years the jackass has been paying octroi [city tolls on imported consumer goods existing since the Middle Ages] without realising it, believing that such a thing exists only in Prussia. Finally, apart from a few plagiarisms and stock phrases, this little pamphlet is liberal through and through, and German-liberal to boot.
It is generally held by the workers here that the Garantien [W. Weitling, Garantien der Harmonie und Freiheit] was not written by Weitling alone. Besides S. Schmidt, Becker, etc., several Frenchmen are said to have provided him with material and in particular he had manuscripts of one Ahrens, of Riga, a worker in Paris, now in America, who also wrote the main part of Die Menschheit wie sie ist und sein soll. The people here once wrote to him in London and told him as much, whereat he became exceedingly angry and simply replied that this was slanderous.
[On the back of the letter]
Monsieur Charles Marx, 19, Plaine Ste Gudule, Bruxelles