Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung June 1848

The Hansemann Government [85]

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 111;
Written: on June 23, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 24, June 24, 1848.

Cologne, June 23. A new turn in the government crisis in Berlin! Our Hansemann has been entrusted with the formation of a Cabinet and he will drop pathetically into the arms of the Left Centre together with Patow, Bornemann, Schleinitz and Schreckenstein, the debris of the old Cabinet. Herr Rodbertus is supposed to participate in the new combination. He is the mediator who obtains favour and forgiveness from the Left Centre for the contrite wreckage of the Camphausen Government.

By the grace of Herr Rodbertus, our Prussian Duchâtel sees his wildest dreams coming true — he becomes Prime Minister. Camphausen’s laurels did not let him rest. Now he will at last have the opportunity to prove what he is capable of when he is in a position to spread his wings unhindered. Now we will be able to admire in all their glory his gigantic financial plans and his limitless projects for the elimination of all want and misery — those plans which he used to present in such a magnificent light to his deputies. Only now is he in a position to devote to the state the entire range of his talents which he earlier displayed so brilliantly and successfully as railwayman and in other posts. And now it will begin to rain votes of confidence.

Herr Hansemann has surpassed his model. Thanks to Rodbertus’ devotion he will be Prime Minister, a position never held by Duchâtel. But we warn him. Duchâtel had his reasons for always remaining ostensibly in the background. Duchâtel knew that the more or less cultured circles of the country both within and without the Chamber need a well-spoken knight of the “great debate”, a Guizot or Camphausen, who on every occasion could soothe the consciences and capture the hearts of all audiences with the required arguments, philosophical deductions, statesman-like theories and other empty phrases. Duchâtel never envied his loquacious ideologists the nimbus of the Prime Minister’s office. Caring for real, actual power, he considered vain glitter worthless. He knew that where he was, there was real power. Herr Hansemann wants to try it another way, he must know what he is doing. But we repeat, being Prime Minister is not the natural role for a Duchâtel.

We are struck with a painful feeling when we contemplate how soon Herr Hansemann must plunge from his dizzy height. For before the Hansemann Government has been formed, before it has had a single moment to enjoy its existence, it is already doomed.

“The hangman stands at the door,"
[Heine, “Ritter Olaf"]

reaction and the Russians are knocking and before the cock will have crowed thrice [Cf. Mark 14:30], the Hansemann Government will have fallen despite Rodbertus and despite the Left Centre. Then good-bye to the Prime Minister’s office, good-bye financial plans and gigantic projects for the elimination of want; the abyss will swallow them all and best wishes to Herr Hansemann when he quietly returns to his humble civil hearth and can contemplate the fact that life is but a dream. [allusion to the tide of Calderón de la Barca’s play La vida es sueño — Life Is a Dream]