Marx and Engels, 1848

On the Question of Free Trade

first page of pamphlet

Table of Contents:

Introduction, Engels 1888.
Protective Tariffs or Free Trade System, Engels Jun 1 1847.
The Protectionists, the Free Traders and the Working Class, Marx Sep 23 1847.
The Free Trade Congress at Brussels, Engels Sep 30 1847.

Marx's Speech, On the Question of Free Trade, Jan 9 1848.
The Kölnische Zeitung on the State of Affairs in England, Engels Aug 1 1848.
Free Trade and The Chartists, by Karl Marx in the New-York Herald Tribune 1852.

front of french edition of the pamphlet

On January 9, 1848, Marx spoke before the Democratic Association of Brussels about the topical question of free trade.

At the end of 1847, Brussels hosted a "Free Trade Congress" - which was intended to further the general Free Trade campaign English manufacturers were conducting. In 1846, the English bourgeoisie repealed England's Corn Laws and were now ready to take their cause abroad.

Marx requested a slot to speak, but the Congress closed before his name came up on the lists. Instead, he delivered his speech to the Democratic Association, of which he was a vice-president. His speech is presented below.

The Free Trade question again raged some 40 years later. Engels dug out Marx's speech and it was reissued in English, with a lengthy introduction by Engels. "Free Trade vs. Protectionism" is a question that remains periodically relevant as long as capitalism exists. Indeed, during the USA-Canada-Mexico free trade negotiations of the early 1990s, the New York Times felt compelled to quote Marx's speech.

Marx's speech was transcribed in French in February 1848 and published in Brussels. Later that year, it was translated into German and published in Germany by Joseph Weydemeyer, friend of Marx and Engels. The speech was appended to the first German edition of The Poverty of Philosophy (1886) as per Engels' wishes. In 1888, it was translated into English and distributed as a pamphlet.