Marx-Engels Correspondence 1856

Karl Marx to Friedrich Engels in Manchester, 30 October 1856

Source: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975). Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

... In Mieroslawski [1] you will notice yourself: 1) that the same person who considers ‘a diplomatic kingdom’ in Poland impossible wanted to make there ‘a diplomatic revolution’, that is, under the auspices of Louis Bonaparte and Palmerston; 2) that the fate of the ‘democratic’ Lechitic community was inevitable. The dominium proper is usurped by the crown, the aristocracy, etc; the patriarchal relations between the dominium and the peasant communities lead to serfdom; optional parcellation creates a sort of peasant middle class, the Equestrian Order, [2] to which the peasant can rise only so long as war of conquest and colonisation continue, both of which, however, are also conditions which accelerate his downfall. As soon as the limit has been reached this Equestrian Order, incapable of playing the role of a real middle class, is transformed into the lumpen-proletariat of the aristocracy. The dominium and the peasants among the Latin population of Moldavia, Walachia, etc, have a similar fate. This kind of development is interesting because here serfdom can be shown to have arisen in a purely economic way, without the intermediate link of conquest and racial dualism...


1. Ludwig Mieroslawski, De la nationalité polonaise dans l'équilibre européen (The Polish Nation Within the European Balance of Power). Ludwik Adam Mieroslawski (1814-1878) – Polish politician and military figure, took part in Polish uprising of 1830-31, headed uprising in Poznan (1848), during Baden-Palatinate insurrection was in command of revolutionary army (1849), in 1850s sought support in Bonapartist circles, at beginning of Polish uprising of 1863 was in command of insurgent detachment, later emigrated to France – Progress Publishers.

2. Rich citizens who formed a special, privileged group of the population and whose duty it was to serve in the cavalry were called equites in the early stages of Ancient Roman history. Members of the trading and moneylending strata of Roman slave-holders who belonged to the Equestrian Order subsequently adopted this name – Progress Publishers.

Marx-Engels Correspondence 1862

Karl Marx to Johann Philipp Becker in Geneva, 26 February 1862 [1]

Source: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975). Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

... As for subscriptions to your essay, [2] I shall do all I possibly can, but expect little success. The ragtag and bobtail that make up the various societies – with the exception of the Workers Educational Association which has no funds whatever – are all constitutionally disposed, and even favour the Prussian National Association. [3] Those fellows would rather give money to suppress an essay like yours. I must tell you, these Germans, young and old, are all very clever, robust, prudent and practical men; they consider people like you and me immature fools who have still not been cured of their revolutionary fantasies. And that riff-raff is as bad at home as it is here abroad. During my stay in Berlin and elsewhere I convinced myself that any attempt to influence that mob by means of literature was absolutely futile. The self-complacent stupidity of those fellows, who regard their press, that woebegone press, as an admirable elixir of life, is simply incredible. Add to this that mental lassitude: caning is the only means to resurrect the ordinary German who, ever since he lost his philosophical illusions and took to moneymaking, and moreover to the idea of ‘Little Germany’ and ‘practical constitutionalism’, has become a superficial impulsive clown...


1. Johann Philipp Becker (1809-1886) – prominent figure in German and international working-class movement, brush-maker, in 1830s and 1840s took part in democratic movement in Germany and Switzerland, was active in 1848-49 revolution, after defeat of Baden-Palatinate insurrection fled from Germany, in 1860s one of outstanding figures in First International, attended all its congresses, editor of Vorbote, friend and close associate of Marx and Engels – Progress Publishers.

2. This refers to a work on the unification of Germany which Becker was writing at that time. It was published in 1862 entitled Wie und Wann? Ein ernstes Word über die Fragen und Aufgaben der Zeit (How and When? Serious Remarks About the Problems and Tasks of Our Time) – Progress Publishers.

3. The National Union was set up on 15-16 September 1859, at a conference held in Frankfurt on the Main of bourgeois liberals from the German states. Its purpose was the unification of all German states except Austria under Prussian hegemony. After the Austro-Prussian war and the creation of the North German Confederation on 11 November 1867, it disbanded itself – Progress Publishers.