Of course, the liberals derive pleasure from rehashing such inexpressible vulgarities. And of course it is not at all in the interests of the liberal hacks at least to acquaint themselves with the letters (of Marx and Engels) to Sorge, referred to by Hyndman himself, and to try and understand the point at issue. They do not take the trouble to do that! And yet a reference to these letters and a comparison between them and Hyndman's "memoirs" would immediately settle the matter.
In 1881 Hyndman published a pamphlet entitled England for All in which he adopts socialism but remains a very, very confused bourgeois democrat. The pamphlet was written for the Democratic Federation (not socialist) which had then been founded and to which a large number of anti-socialist elements belonged. Hyndman paraphrases and copies from Capital in two chapters of this pamphlet, but does not mention Marx ; however, in the preface he speaks vaguely of a certain "great thinker" and "original writer" to whom he is greatly indebted, etc. Hyndman tells us that it was over this that Engels caused a "breach" between him and Marx, and at the same time quotes a letter Marx had written to him (dated December 8, 1880), in which Marx says that, according to Hyndman, he, Hyndman, "does not share the views of my [Marx's] party for England".
It is clear what the difference was -- a difference not understood, noticed, or appreciated by Hyndman. It was that Hyndman at that time (as Marx plainly wrote to Sorge on December 15, 1881) was a "well-meaning, petty bourgeois writer", "half-bourgeois, half-proletarian". Obviously if a man who makes the acquaintance of Marx, be-
comes intimate with him, calls himself a student of his, later forms a "democratic" federation and writes a pamphlet for it in which he misrepresents Marxism and does not mention Marx, the latter could not let it pass without making a "furious" protest. Evidently the protest was made, for Marx in the same letter to Sorge quotes extracts from letters of apology in which Hyndman excuses himself on the ground that "the English don't like to be taught by foreigners" and that "my [Marx's] name was so much detested" (!), etc. (Hyndman himself states that he destroyed nearly all of Marx's letters to him, so that the discovery of the truth from this side is not to be expected.)
Fine apologies, are they not! Well, at a time when the question of the then existing differences between Hyndman and Marx has been cleared up quite definitely, and when even the whole of Hyndman's present book shows that there is much of the philistine and bourgeois in his views (for example, the arguments with which Hyndman defends capital punishment for criminals!), what is offered as the explanation of his rupture with Marx is the "intrigues" of Engels, who for forty years, followed a common line of principle with Marx. Even if all the rest of Hyndman's book were a barrel of honey, this one spoonful of tar would be enough to spoil it!
The differences between Marx and Hyndman at that time are most characteristically revealed by what Hyndman tells us about Marx's opinion of Henry George. Marx's appraisal of Henry George is known from his letter to Sorge dated June 20, 1881. Talking with Marx, Hyndman defended Henry George using the following argument: "George will teach more by inculcating error than other men can impart by complete exposition of the truth".
"Marx," writes Hyndman, "would not hear of this as a sound contention. The promulgation of error could never be of any good to the people, that was his view. 'To leave error unrefuted is to encourage intellectual immorality. For ten who go farther, a hundred may very easily stop with George, and the danger of this is too great to run!'" That was what Marx said!
Yet Hyndman tells us that, on the one hand, he still holds to his previous opinion of Henry George, and that,
on the other hand, George was a boy with a bright farthing dipp fooling around within the radius of a man using an electric searchlight.
An excellent comparison, only . . . only it was risky for Hyndman to make this excellent comparison side by side with his miserable gossip about Engels.