Letters of Marx and Engels 1841

Letter from Marx to Dagobert Oppenheim

In Cologne

Written: [Bonn, approximately August 25, 1842];
Source: Marx Engels Collected Works Vol 1, pg 391-393;
Publisher: International Publishers (1975);
First Published: Rheinische Briefe und Akten zur Geschichte der politischen Bewegung 1830-1850, 1. Bd., Essen, 1919;
Translated: Clemens Dutt;
Transcribed: S. Ryan.

Dear Oppenheim,

I enclose a manuscript from Ruge. No. 1 that is not usable, but No. 2, on the state of affairs in Saxony, you will probably be able to use.

Send me Mayer's article in the Rheinische Zeitung on the system of local government and, if possible, all Hermes' articles against the Jews. I will then send you as soon as possible an article which, even if it does not finally settle the latter question, will nevertheless make it take another course.

Will the article on Hanover go through? At least try to make a small start with it soon. It is not so much a matter of this article itself as of a series of useful articles from that quarter which I can then promise you. The author of the article wrote to me yesterday:

"I do not think my attacks on the opposition will do harm to sales of the newspaper in Hanover; on the contrary, people there am fairly generally so far advanced that the views I put forward will be accepted as correct."

If it is in accord with your views on the subject, send me also the Juste-Milieu article for criticism. The subject must be discussed dispassionately. In the first place, quite general theoretical arguments about the state political system are more suitable for purely scientific organs than for newspapers. The correct theory must be made clear and developed within the concrete conditions and on the basis of the existing state of things.

However, since it has now happened, two things should be borne in mind. Every time we come into conflict with other newspapers, the matter can, sooner or later, be used against us. Such a clear demonstration against the foundations of the present state system can result in an intensification of the censorship and even the suppression of the newspaper. It was in this way that the South-German Tribüne came to an end. But in any case we arouse the resentment of many, indeed the majority, of the free-thinking practical people who have undertaken the laborious task of winning freedom step by step, within the constitutional framework, while we, from our comfortable armchair of abstractions, show them their contradictions. True, the author of the Juste-Milieu article invites criticism; but 1) we all know how governments respond to such challenges; 2) it is not enough for someone to express readiness to hear criticism, for which in any case his permission will not be asked; the question is whether he has selected the appropriate arena. Newspapers only begin to be the appropriate arena for such questions when these have become questions of the real state, practical questions.

I consider it essential that the Rheinische Zeitung should not be guided by its contributors, but that, on the contrary, it should guide them. Articles of the kind mentioned afford the best opportunity for indicating a definite plan of operations to the contributors. A single author cannot have a view of the whole in the way the newspaper can.

If my views do not coincide with yours, I would--if you do not find it inappropriate-give this criticism to the Anekdota, as a supplement to my article against Hegel's theory of constitutional monarchy. But I think it is better when the newspaper is its own doctor.

Hoping for an early reply from you,