Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung June 1848

The Neue Berliner Zeitung on the Chartists

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 113;
Written: on June 23, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 24, June 24, 1848.

Cologne, June 23. The first issue of the Neue Berliner Zeitung reports all sorts of curious things about England. It is nice to be original; the Neue Berliner Zeitung has at least the merit that it describes conditions in England in quite brand-new fashion. First of all, it says:

“O'Connor, who, indeed, seems to be a man without intelligence or principles, enjoys no esteem here at all."
[Neue Berliner Zeitung June 20, 1848]

It is not up to us to decide whether O'Connor possesses as much intelligence and principle as the Neue Berliner Zeitung. This scion of ancient Irish kings, this leader of Great Britain’s proletariat may in these advantages lag behind the educated Berlin newspaper. You are entirely correct, however, oh educated Berlin newspaper, in what you have to say about his reputation: O'Connor, like all revolutionaries, is held in very bad odour. He has never been able to gain the respect of all the pious people the way you have already done by your first issue. The Berlin newspaper says further:

“O'Connell said that he” (that is O'Connor) “possesses energy but no logic.”

That is just splendid. The blessed Dan [O'Connell] was an honourable man; the logic of his energy consisted in pulling an annuity of 30,000 pound sterling from the pockets of his poor countrymen. The logic of O'Connor’s agitation resulted only in the sale of the entire worldly possessions of this notorious Chartist.

“Mr. Jones, the second leader of the extreme faction of the Chartists, who is now being sought by the courts and who is nowhere to be found, cannot even find anyone to put up bail of 1,000 pound sterling.”

That is the third piece of news from our extremely well-educated Berlin newspaper. In these three lines, it states three extreme absurdities. In the first place, bail is out of the question so long as the courts are still searching for someone. Secondly, Mr. Ernest Jones has already been in Newgate [prison] for a fortnight. The educated Berlin newspaper was perhaps only invited to tea at another extremely well-educated and well-informed fellow newspaper when quite recently the entire bourgeois press of England gave expression to its brutal joy over Jones’ arrest. Thirdly, Mr. Jones has indeed at last found someone who gladly offered to pay 1,000 pound sterling for him, namely none other than the unintelligent and unprincipled O'Connor himself who was, however, turned down by the courts since as a Member of Parliament he cannot put up bail.

The Berlin newspaper ends by alleging that the Chartists in the country’s smaller towns frequently have fisticuffs with each other. If you had only once read an English newspaper, esteemed Berlin paper! You would have made the discovery that the Chartists have always had more fun in beating up the police than each other.

We commend the intelligent and principled Neue Berliner Zeitung to the special attention of our readers.