Karl Marx in Neue Oder Zeitung 1855

Napoleon and Barbès. Stamp Duty on Newspapers


First Published: Neue Oder Zeitung, 30 March 1855;
Source: Marx Engels on Literature and Art, Progress Publishers, 1976;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

The bill to lift stamp duty from newspapers was passed on its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday. The main provisions of this bill are as follows: 1. Compulsory stamp duty on newspapers is abolished; 2. Periodical publications printed on stamped paper continue to enjoy the privilege of being forwarded by post free of charge. A third clause concerns the size of printed material sent through the post and another states that stamped newspapers must deposit a bond against possible libel actions. Two facts are sufficient to characterise the old system of newspaper taxation: the publication of a daily newspaper in London requires a capital of at least £50,000-£60,000; and, with very few exceptions, the entire English press opposes the new bill shamelessly and with an utter lack of propriety. 19 any further proof needed that the old system protects the existing press, and prohibits free spiritual production? In England press freedom has hitherto been the exclusive privilege of capital. The few weekly newspapers representing the interests of the working class — there could, of course, be no question of daily newspapers — survive on the basis of weekly contributions from Workers, who in England make quite different sacrifices for the sake of common goals than do’ workers on the continent. The leviathan of the English press, The Times, filled with strident tragicomic emotion, battles pro aris et focis, i.e., for the newspaper monopoly, now modestly comparing itself with the Delphic oracle, now asserting that England possesses only one institution worthy of preservation, namely The Times, now claiming an autocratic position in world journalism and, without any Kuchuk-Kaïnardji agreement, a protectorate over all