Marx-Engels Correspondence 1866
Source: MECW Volume 42, p 327;.
First published: abridged in Die Neue Zeit, Stuttgart, 1901-1902 and in full in Pisma Marksa k Kugelmanu, Moscow-Leningrad, 1928.
Since I wish to reply to you at once and your letter has arrived just before the Post closes (and no post goes from here tomorrow, Sunday), I shall summarise the quintessence of my intercepted letter in a few words. (This confiscation of letters is certainly not at all pleasant, as I have not the slightest desire to make Mr Bismarck a confidant to my private affairs. If, on the other hand, he wishes to know my views on his policies, he can approach me direct, and I am sure I shall not mince my words.)
My economic situation has deteriorated so much following my prolonged illness and the many expenses it entailed that I am faced with a financial crisis in the immediate future, something which, quite apart from its direct effects on myself and family, would also be ruinous for me politically, especially here in London, where one must keep up appearances. What I wanted to find out from you was this: do you know anyone, or a few people (under no circumstances must the affair become public), who could advance me about 1,000 talers at an interest rate of 5 or 6% for at least 2 years? I am now paying 20-50% interest for the small sums I am borrowing, but for all that I can no longer keep the creditors at bay, with the result that the old firm is about to come crashing down about my ears.
Since my penultimate letter to you. I have suffered another series of relapses and have consequently only been able to pursue my theoretical work very intermittently. (The practical work for the International Association goes on as ever, and there is a lot of it, as I am in fact having to run the whole Association myself.) I shall be sending the first sheets [of the first volume of Capital] to Meissner next month, and will continue to do so until I go to Hamburg with the remainder myself. At all events, I shall take that opportunity to call on you.
My circumstances (endless interruptions, both physical and social) oblige me to publish Volume One first, not both volumes together, as I had originally intended. And there will now probably be 3 volumes.
The whole work is thus divided into the following parts:
Book I. The Process of Production of Capital.
Book II. The Process of Circulation of Capital.
Book III. Structure of the Process as a Whole.
Book IV. On the History of the Theory.
The first volume will include the first 2 books.
The 3rd book will, I believe, fill the second volume, the 4th the 3rd.
It was, in my opinion, necessary to begin again ab ovo in the first book, i. e., to summarise the book of mine published by Duncker [Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy] in one chapter on commodities and money. I judged this to be necessary, not merely for the sake of completeness, but because even intelligent people did not properly understand the question, in other words, there must have been defects in the first presentation, especially in the analysis of commodities. Lassalle, e. g., in his Kapital und Arbeit in which he claims to give the ‘Intellectual quintessence’ of my argument, makes serious blunders, which is incidentally something to which he is always prone with his very carefree manner of appropriating my works. It is comical how he even copies my literary-historical ‘errors’, because, you see, I sometimes quote from memory, without checking things. I have not yet finally made up my mind whether to pass a few remarks in the foreword about Lassalle’s plagiarising. The impudence of his disciples towards me would at all events justify it.
The London Council of the English trade unions (its secretary is our President, Odger) is deliberating at the present moment as to whether it should declare itself to be the British Section of the International Association. If it does so, the control of the working class here will in a certain sense pass into our hands, and we shall be able to give the movement a good ‘push on’.