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Marx-Engels Correspondence 1852

Marx To Adolf Cluss
In Washington

Source: MECW Volume 39, p. 20;
First published: in full in Marx and Engels, Works, First Russian Edition, 1934.

[London,] 7 December 1852

... Enclosed you will find: 1. A manuscript of mine: Revelations Concerning the Communist Trial in Cologne. This manuscript went off to Switzerland yesterday to be printed there and thence pitched into Germany as étrennes for the Prussian gentlemen. You should have it printed locally if you believe that sales in America will enable you to recoup at least the production costs, if more, tant mieux. In which case, advance notices should appear in the Press to whet people’s curiosity. If the pamphlet does come out in America, it should be published anonymously, as in Switzerland. To appreciate to the full the humour of the thing, you must know that its author, for want of anything decent to wear on his backside and feet, is as good as interned and, moreover, is and continues to be threatened with truly ghastly misère engulfing his family at any moment. The trial dragged me even deeper into the mire, since for 5 weeks, instead of working for my livelihood, I had to work for the party against the government’s machinations. On top of that, it has completely alienated the German booksellers with whom I had hoped to conclude a contract for my Economy. Finally, Bermbach’s arrest has deprived me of the prospect of making anything out of the Brumaires sent through you — 300 had been ordered through him as long ago as May. So it’s a pretty kettle of fish.

Here in London I have made it generally known that the pamphlet is to be printed in North America, if only so that we can make an incursion from Switzerland behind the Prussians’ backs. They suspect that something is afoot and by now will have ordered the douaniers and police in Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck to be on the qui-vive.

2. Herewith also an appeal for money for the Cologne prisoners and their families. See that it appears in various papers. It might also be a good idea for you to form committees over there. Here it is a matter of a party demonstration. You will observe that Ernest Jones actually appears as a party member. In an introductory note, signed by you both, you might specially emphasise that this is not a case of begging for the revolution Kinkel-fashion, etc., but rather of a definite party aim whose fulfilment is demanded by the honour of the workers’ party.

A longish statement (signed by me, Lupus, Freiligrath and Engels) about the government’s infamies at the Cologne trial has appeared in various London papers. What especially riles the Prussian Embassy is the fact that the most distinguished and respectable London weeklies, the Spectator and the Examiner, have accepted this unvarnished denunciation of the Prussian government.

The Morning Advertiser did not print your letter; can it have smelt a rat?

The item from the Abendzeitung received from you today, according to which I, etc., the police, etc., is a scurrility on the part of Mr M. Gross, who has been put up to it by some Willichian or other in New York. You will see from my manuscript what kind of role this ‘honourable’ Willich plays in the Cologne trial. I have kept a good deal back, partly so as not to impair the literary scheme of the whole, and partly for use as fresh ammunition should the fellow — which I hardly dare hope — have the courage to reply.

I am tickled by Fickler’s letters. Blind, who is now living here with his wife, tells me that, during the industrial exhibition, Fickler, good, honest Fickler, rented a large house and furnished it sumptuously for the purpose of reletting. The speculation misfired. Not only did Fickler make off to America to escape his creditors. He also made off without breathing a word of his plans to his marriageable daughter who lived with him, and without leaving her a single centime. She, of course, was thrown out of the house. What became of her after that, no one knows. Good, honest Fickler!

As regards Proudhon, you are both right. Massol’s delusions were due to the fact that Proudhon, with his usual industrial quackery, adopted as his ‘latest discoveries’ some of my ideas, e.g., that there is no such thing as absolute knowledge, that everything is explicable in terms of material conditions, etc., etc. In his book on Louis Bonaparte he openly admits what I had to deduce for myself first from his Philosophie de la Misère, namely, that his ideal is the petit bourgeois France, he says, consists of 3 classes: 1. Bourgeoisie; 2. Middle class (petit bourgeois); 3. Proletariat. Now the purpose of history, and of revolution in particular, is to dissolve classes 1 and 3, the extremes, in class 2, the happy mean, this being effected by Proudhonian credit transactions, the final result of which is the abolition of interest in its various forms.

General Vetter will be looking up Weydemeyer in New York and yourself in Washington.

Ad vocem Kossuth. When I learnt through what you sent about the initial scandal in the German-American Press over my ‘private correspondence’ in the Tribune I sent a statement to the Tribune, signed ‘your private correspondent’ of which herewith a summary:

But to continue. On receiving from you the cutting in which one of Kossuth’s secretaries describes me as an infamous calumniator, etc., and at the same time works for Pierre, etc., I informed Mr Kossuth of the contents of my first statement to the Tribune and asked the gentleman for a definitive explanation. Whereupon Kossuth replied 1. on his word of honour, that he has no secretary; that possibly Benningsen in America, his one-time clerk of chancery, had arrogated this office to himself; and 2. that the first he had heard of the alleged statement had been through me (I having sent him the corpus delicti the slip of paper contained in your letter); 3. that he was grateful for my warning and would again invite me to meet him somewhere on neutral ground.

Next Friday I shall convey points 1 and 2 to the Tribune again. Keep me au fait with this affair.

Ad vocem Kinkel. Well, Kinkel has been roving around lecturing on modern poetry, etc., in Bradford and Manchester where, like the clerical, aesthetic, liberal parasite he is, he paid court to the German Jews. People who attended his lectures have informed me on his aesthetic derring-do as follows: he announces that he will be giving a lecture on Goethe’s Faust in Bradford, admittance 3/- per head. Hall packed. Great expectations. And what does Gottfried do? Reads them Faust from cover to cover, and calls this a lecture onFaust’! Needless to say, Gottfried was wily enough to save up this piece of cheating for the very last lecture. In Manchester Gottfried declared:

‘Goethe is no poet, he rhymes “erbötig” with “Venedig'; but Immermann is the greatest of all German poets.'

And again:

‘I wound venture to say that, of the more recent German poets, 3 in particular have enjoyed the favour of the public — Herwegh, Freiligrath and — if I would venture to say — Gottfried Kinkel.’

But easy-going Gottfried also lectured on politics, e.g. on the parties in North America. Here is what he said in Manchester and Bradford:

‘True, I announced that I was going to speak about the American parties, e.g. Democrats, Whigs, Free Soilers, etc. But in fact there are no more parties left in America, than there are in Europe. There remains only the one great party of the liberals, as would also become apparent in Germany, if only the defeated party were allowed to resume its former position.'

Finally Gottfried spoke about the Mormons of whom, among other things, he declared:

‘He who wishes to be rid of all earthly cares should betake himself to the Mormons’, etc.

His pronouncements even led people in Bradford to believe that he was a Mormon agent. Be that as it may, Gottfried Kinkel left the two manufacturing towns profoundly convinced that he must never show his face there again.

At the Assizes in Cologne Becker has discredited both himself and the party. It had been mutually agreed from the outset that he would come forward as a non-League member, so as not to lose the good-will of the democratic petty bourgeoisie. But being very weak in theory and pretty strong in the matter of petty ambition, he was all of a sudden overcome by vertigo. He wanted to play the great man of democracy at the communists’ expense. Not only did he want to get off scot-free, but also carry off in person what laurels were to be won at the trial. He is not only as shameless as ever, he is growing despicable.

In conclusion, a few words on France. Bonaparte, who has always lived on tick, believes that there is no better way of bringing about the golden age in France than by making loan institutions universal, and as accessible as possible to all classes. His transactions have a twofold advantage: They pave the way for an atrocious financial crisis, and demonstrate what results from Proudhon’s credit manoeuvres when they are put into practice and not confined to theoretical day-dreams, namely a stock-jobbing swindle unparalleled since the days of John Law.

The Orleanists — I know one of their agents very well — are tremendously active. Thiers is here at the moment. They have many allies in the army and in Bonaparte’s immediate entourage. They intend to murder him (in January) in his bed. Nous verrons. At all events, I shall be notified a fortnight before the attempt, and shall in turn notify the revolutionary proletarian party in Paris through the secret society of ‘frères et amis’, to which I belong. If the Orleanists pull the chestnuts out of the fire, they must in no case be allowed to eat them.

Should Heinzen, etc., brag about Becker’s performance in Cologne, thereby compromising us all, you must publish a statement signed with your name, to the effect that Becker was a member of the communist society and that shortly before his arrest, he invited me to write a paper against the democrats, but asked me not to reply to the attacks of Heinzen and Ruge, those wretched allies of Müller-Tellering. Of course, you should only make use of this weapon if absolutely necessary. In which case you declare outright that Becker took the stage as arranged, but grossly over-acted, did not play his part skilfully enough — which is all that he can be reproached with.

K. M.