Letters: Marx-Engels Correspondence 1877

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Marx-Engels Correspondence 1877

Marx to Engels
In Ramsgate


[London,] 18 July 1877

It would certainly be very pleasant if a really scientific socialist journal were to be published. It would provide an opportunity for criticisms or counter-criticisms in which we could discuss theoretical points, expose the utter ignorance of professors and lecturers and at the same time enlighten the minds of the general public--working class or bourgeois. But Wiede's periodical cannot possible be anything but sham-scientific; the same half-educated Knoten and dilettante literary men who make the Neue Welt, Vorwärts, etc., unsafe, necessarily form the majority of his collaborators. Ruthlessness --the first condition of all criticism--is impossible in such company; besides which constant attention has to be paid to making things easily comprehensible, i.e., exposition for the ignorant. Imagine a journal of chemistry where the readers' ignorance of chemistry is constantly assumed as the fundamental presupposition. And apart from all that, the way the people who are necessarily Wiede's collaborators have behaved in the Dühring incident imposes the precaution of keeping oneself as separate from these gentlemen as political party conditions allow. Their motto seems to be: Whoever criticises his opponent by abusing him is a man of feeling, but whoever defames his opponent by genuine criticism is an unworthy character.