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Marx-Engels Correspondence 1866

Marx To Engels
In Manchester

Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 286;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

[London,] 20 June 1866

Dear Fred,

This damned weather is having a particularly evil effect sur mon physique; and this is the reason why I did not acknowledge the ‘wine’ earlier, nor write to you otherwise. There is no chance of coming to Manchester, as I cannot leave the house in my present state; besides, I have to be here for the ‘International’, where my French friends have already used my absence once in these trying circumstances to execute some tomfoolery in the name of the Association.

As regards newspapers here, in my view the best thing to do, if nothing comes of the Manchester business, is to send a proper military article to The Times to which you can present yourself as the English correspondent of the Darmstadt Militär-Zeitung. No need for any political considerations, as one London paper is just as bad as any other, and what matters is to obtain the widest publicity.

You must now keep me ‘critically’ au courant des affaires in Italy and Germany.

There was a debate at yesterday’s meeting of the International Council. about the present war. It was announced beforehand and our room was very full. Even the Italian gentlemen had honoured us with their presence again. The discussion was wound up, as could have been foreseen, with the ‘question of nationality’ in general and the attitude we should adopt to it. This sujet adjourned until next Tuesday.

The French, very strongly represented, cave vent to their cordial dislike for the Italians.

The representatives of ‘jeune France’ (non-workers), by the way, trotted out their view that any nationality and even nations are ‘des préjugés surannés’. [outdated prejudices] Proudhonised Stirnerianism. Everything to be broken down into small ‘groupes’ or ‘communes’, which in turn form an ‘association’, but not a state. Furthermore, this ‘individualisation’ of mankind and the ‘mutualisme it entails are to proceed by bringing history to a halt in every other country and the whole world waits until the French are ready to carry out a social revolution. Then they will demonstrate the experiment to us, and the rest of the world, being bowled over by the force of their example, will do the same. Just what Fourier expected from his phalanstère modèle. D'ailleurs, everyone who clutters up the ‘social’ question with the ‘superstitions’ of the Old World is a ‘reactionary’.

The English laughed heartily when I began my speech with the observation that our friend Lafargue, and others, who had abolished nationalities, had addressed us in ‘French’, i.e., in a language which 9/10 of the audience did not understand. I went on to suggest that by his denial of nationalities he seemed quite unconsciously to imply their absorption by the model French nation.

For the rest, the position is difficult now because one must equally oppose the silly Italianism of the English, on the one hand, and the mistaken polemic against it of the French, on the other, and above all prevent any demonstration which would involve our Association in a one-sided course.


K. M.